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Office of Traffic Safety

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Deer-Vehicle Safety

​Don’t Veer for Deer

Deer-vehicle crashes peak in the autumn months, but Minnesota’s large deer population makes them a safety hazard on the road all year long. Deer crashes are especially dangerous for motorcyclists — a group which accounted for 17 of the 20 vehicle-deer related deaths over a five year period (2015-2019).

  • In the last five years (2015–2019) in Minnesota, there were 7,247 deer crashes reported to DPS, resulting in 20 deaths.
  • These crashes also resulted in 121 serious injuries, of which 105 were motorcyclists.

2012 - 2019 Deer Crash Statistics

Year ​Crashes ​Fatalities ​Serious Injuries ​All Fatalities & Injuries
​2012 ​2,488 ​8 ​38 ​485
​2013 ​2,096 ​8 ​21 ​398
​2014 ​1,912 ​1 ​17 ​380
​2015 ​2,141 ​6 ​25 ​351
​2016 ​1,295 ​1 ​29 ​251
​2017 ​1,322 ​4 ​22 ​236
​2018 ​1,226 ​6 ​26 ​214
2019​ ​1,263 ​3 ​19 ​194


Motorist Safety Tips to Avoid Deer Crashes

  • Drive at safe speeds and always be buckled up.

  • Be especially cautious from 6 - 9 p.m., when deer are most active.

  • Use high beams as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.

  • Motorists: don’t swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic.

  • Motorcyclists: Avoid night and low-light riding periods. A rider’s best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep your eyes and head up to improve your chances of keeping the bike up. If a crash is imminent, and there is enough space to swerve around the deer without leaving the roadway, use maximum braking and just before impact, attempt a swerve in the opposite direction the deer is traveling. Riders are encouraged to wear full face helmets and full protective gear to prevent injury or death in a crash. High visibility gear can assist other driver’s in seeing you better; whether it’s while making an evasive maneuver to avoid a deer or laying on the roadway after impacting a deer.

  • Don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads.

  •  Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.

  • Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population — such as areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.

  • Deer do unpredictable things — they stop in the middle of the road when crossing; cross and quickly re-cross back; and move toward an approaching vehicle. Blow horn to urge deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road, don’t try to go around it.

  • Any Minnesota resident may claim a road-killed animal by contacting a law enforcement officer. An authorization permit will be issued allowing the individual to lawfully possess the deer.

  • If a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.