Officials are warning drivers to be on the lookout for deer on the road this fall.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said during deer mating season animals become more active, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said,
“As the risk of deer-vehicle crashes peak during fall, drivers can help ensure they reach their destinations safely by remembering a few important tips. Most importantly, don’t veer for deer. While your first instinct when facing a deer in the headlights may be to swerve, doing so could cause you to lose control of the vehicle and increase the severity of a crash.”
IDNR gave the following safe driving tips during deer mating season:
• Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to deer crossing signs.
• Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in the eyes.
• Slow down if you see deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.
• Prepare for the unexpected. Deer can stop in the middle of the road or double back.
• If a collision is inevitable, try to glance the vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic.
Last year, there were 15,636 crashes involving deer in Illinois. Eight of the crashes were fatal.
According to WAND-TV, more than 40% 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 nearly 90% of all crashes involving deer, with more than 70% occurring at twilight or nighttime.
The top 10 Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2018 were:
1. Cook 476
2. Peoria 391
3. Madison 377
4. Will 374
5. Sangamon 360
6. Fulton 331
7. Williamson 315
8. Rock Island 310
9. McHenry 308
10. Kane 307
IDNR Director Colleen Callahan said,
“Deer-vehicle collisions can happen in any part of the state, urban or rural. If you do hit a deer, remember to report the accident to local law enforcement or a conservation police officer. They can help control traffic, clear the roadway or in the event that the animal must be euthanized.”
If you hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder and turn on the hazard lights. Call 911 to report the accident so law enforcement can help. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.