October 02, 2013 - In this case, making the Top 10 list is not something to brag about.
Oxford Township had the second highest number of vehicle-deer crashes in southeast Michigan in 2012, according to data released last week by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
A total of 110 vehicle-deer crashes were recorded in Oxford. That represents 28.9 percent of all crashes in the township last year, which totalled 381.
Rochester Hills was Number One on the list with 155 vehicle-deer crashes.
Deer crashes are so frequent in Oxford that no one is immune – not even police officers.
Oakland County Sheriff's Det. Jason Louwaert was travelling on M-24, south of Oakwood Rd., when a deer ran into his patrol car on Sept. 21 shortly before 8 p.m.
The impact shattered the patrol car's windshield and damaged the driver's side mirror and door.
There were a total of 5,206 vehicle-deer crashes in southeast Michigan last year. Of that, 1,683 happened in Oakland County, which replaced Kent County with the most deer crashes in the entire state.
A total of 48,918 deer-related crashes occurred statewide in 2012.
According to SEMCOG deer crashes cost at least $130 million in Michigan on an annual basis. The average insurance claim is approximately $2,100 in damage. Typically, the damage is to the front end, rendering the vehicle undriveable.
Although deer crashes occur year-round, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition warns drivers that they occur most frequently during October, November and December. Most of the crashes happen on two-lane roads from 6-10 p.m. (dusk) and 5-8 a.m. (dawn).
Drivers are advised to keep in mind that deer are herd animals that frequently travel in a single-file line. If one deer is crossing the road, chances are good that more are behind it. Pay attention to posted deer crossing signs.
If a deer is encountered while driving, Michigan State Police urge drivers not to swerve out of a lane to avoid it.
According to the state police, the most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and either hit another vehicle or a fixed object, or roll their vehicle over.
If crashing into a deer is unavoidable, the state police recommend braking firmly while securely gripping the steering wheel and bringing the vehicle to a controlled stop. Then pull off the road, turn on emergency flashers and watch out for traffic when exiting the vehicle.
Drivers are advised to report the crash to the nearest police agency and their insurance company. If the damage is $1,000 or greater, the law requires drivers to report it.