MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drivers need to be extra careful this month as the odds of hitting a deer are now at their highest.
MnDOT says there’ve been more than 6,000 crashes involving deer in recent years. Fifteen people have died, and nearly 1,000 more were hurt.
“They see the lights and they freeze and then boom – that’s what usually happens,” said Dennis O’Connell.
He owns an auto repair shop in Little Canada, and he’s a victim of a deer-car crash himself.
“I did $10,000 worth of damage to my own Tahoe from a deer hit,” he said. “And the deer was not that big.”
Most deer collisions, he says, total cars.
“Time and time again, the deer hits are much more expensive to repair than the normal car hit,” he said.
He says the last couple of years have seen a spike in deer-car crashes.
And November is the worst month of all.
MnDOT says this time of year is the worst because it’s deer mating season and daylight hours are few.
State safety officials say drivers should scan the sides of the road for deer, particularly in the morning and the evening.
And if a deer jumps out in front of you, don’t swerve.
“If you swerve, you may very well swerve into on-coming traffic and very likely the damage caused to you and your vehicle, as well as the other vehicle, is going to be much worse than if you just went ahead and hit the deer,” said Kevin Gutknecht, with MnDOT. “I know it sounds and seems cruel, but that’s the right thing to do.”
MnDOT also says they’re seeing deer collisions with motorcycles. So far this year, five deaths have been reported.
If you’re wondering if Minnesota has it worse than other states, a report by State Farm says that Minnesota is seventh out of 50 states for deer collisions.