As the days grow shorter, temperatures drop and leaves change color, motorists are reminded to stay alert, slow down and don’t veer for deer.
Autumn is accompanied by the rut in Illinois, and deer become especially active, mainly at dawn and dusk from October through December.
In 2020, 13,787 motor vehicle crashes involved deer in Illinois. Of these, 13,166 resulted in damage to property or vehicles, while 611 caused personal injuries. Ten of the crashes resulted in fatalities.
“Although a collision with a deer can happen any time of year, we are entering the peak season,” said Omer Osman, Transportation secretary. “Deer can often appear suddenly in some surprising environments, so you are urged to be on alert. Slow down, pay attention in areas where they are known to travel and remember – don’t veer for deer. While the urge to swerve is instinctual, it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and increase the severity of a crash.”
Safe driving tips for deer mating season include being e aware of your surroundings, especially in areas with deer crossing signs; scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in their eyes; slow down if you see a deer because they travel in groups, it is likely more are nearby’
Prepare for the unexpected because deer may stop in the middle of the road or double back, and if a collision is inevitable, try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic.
More than 43% of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November and December, with November being the highest-risk month.
Rural environments were the site of more than 62% of all motor vehicle crashes involving deer, with more 72% occurring at twilight or nighttime.
The top 10 Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2020: 1. Cook 469; 2. Madison 375; 3. Will 322; 4. Sangamon 308; 5. Peoria 306; 6. Kane 275; 7. McHenry 271; 8. Fulton 268; 9. Lake 250; 10. Williamson 249.
“Whether in rural or urban areas, deer are part of the Illinois landscape, and we need to be alert to their presence,” said Colleen Callahan, Department of Natural Resources director. “Please be cautious while on the road as deer are particularly active during the mating season in the fall and during busy driving times around dawn and dusk.”
Drivers who hit a deer are advised to pull off to the shoulder, turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights, call 911 to report the accident and not exit the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.
For information on how to claim a deer involved in a crash, or to report possession of a deer killed in a deer-vehicle crash, click here.