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WisDOT: Dodging deer on roadways harder this time of year

By Dannika Lewis,
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:20:01 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2013 10:53:25 AM CST


Jeff Hepp, the director at Ball Body Shop, is seeing seven to 10 cars come in every week with damage caused by car versus deer crashes.

"They're going a little crazy this year. There's been quite a few more," Hepp said.

The auto body shop in Middleton is filled with broken bumpers and crunched hoods. Hepp said the average repairs cost $3,500, with fixes ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. He said the accidents are happening at all hours, and the quantity is not something that he’s used to.

"I don't blame any driver particularly," Hepp said. "It's just a matter of the deer can be in front of you at any time, so you really need to pay attention to what's going on to your side at the same time as what's in front of you as you're driving, especially in those dusk hours."

According to statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, deer crashes peak in the month of November. Last year, there were 18,895 deer crashes across the state, with 851 in Dane County alone.

Fourteen deer crashes were fatal in Wisconsin last year.

Donald Lyden works as a safety research analyst for the Wisconsin State Patrol, and said Dane County is typically among the top counties in the state for deer crashes, thanks to the amount of rural roads and traffic on those rural roads.

"Wisconsin is very well-suited for that type of environment for deer, so they're a very dominant animal in this state," Lyden said. "Unfortunately, they don't just cross at the deer crossings."

DOT information also shows more than 15 percent of all 2012 collisions in Wisconsin involved deer.

Lyden said accidents involving deer aren’t limited to back roads or interstates, but tend to happen anywhere this time of year.

"There's no real one area that is just sort of like, this is where all of the deer are all of the time," Lyden said. "Would be nice if we knew that and if that was actually the case, but it just simply isn't the case."

Lyden said a number of the serious or fatal crashes involve motorcyclists.

"You pay more for the damage, but if you're OK, that's a win," Lyden said.

Hepp said most comprehensive coverage will pay for repairs, qualifying deer accidents as an act of God.

Both Lyden and Hepp said it's important for drivers to not swerve if they come across a deer on the road. They said it can do more damage to a car or someone’s body to go into oncoming traffic or to slam into whatever lies on the side of the road.

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