In Illinois, deer-vehicle crash ‘season’ approaching, too

(Photo courtesy of Adele Hodde/Illinois DNR)

More so than anywhere else in the state, drivers in Cook and Madison counties should be on the lookout for deer on and around Illinois roadways this fall.

Both counties reported more than 400 crashes involving deer in 2016. And with the fall rut and deer hunting season looming, it’s a potentially dangerous time for Illinois drivers.

About 40 percent of crashes in Illinois involving deer in 2016 came in October, November, and December – with November being the highest-risk month (the firearms deer hunting season opens Nov. 17), according to an Illinois DNR release, and 75 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involving deer were in rural environments, and 72 percent came at twilight or nighttime.

In 2016, there were 14,759 motor vehicle crashes involving deer in Illinois, more than 1,000 less than the 2015 total. There were 14,248 crashes that resulted in damage to property or vehicles only, down from the 15,431 in 2015. Personal injuries tallied 581 in 2016 versus 628 in 2015 and 569 in 2014. The number of fatalities dropped, from eight in 2015 to five in 2016.

Cook County led with 439 crashes involving deer in 2016, followed by Madison with 415. Rounding out the top 10 in vehicle-deer crashes: Will (389), Sangamon (344), Fulton (328), Peoria (311), Williamson (287), Rock Island (278), Bureau, Pike and Lake (277) and Jackson (273).

In the release, the DNR urges motorists to:

  • 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 in the area.
  • 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.

For more safe driving tips, click here.

If you do hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder and turn on the hazard lights, the release said. Then call 911 to report the accident so appropriate law enforcement can assist. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road. You can visit the IDNR website for information on how to claim a deer that has been involved in a crash.

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