SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced that fatal crashes, injuries and the number of motorists killed in accidents involving deer declined in 2011. IDOT and IDNR also reminded motorists to once again be alert for deer along roadways during one of the most active periods of the year for wildlife activity.
“Throughout the fall deer hunting season and into the winter months, we strongly remind all motorists to please slow down, drive defensively, obey posted speed limits, and be especially alert for wildlife at night along Illinois roadways,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “We are pleased to report the recent decline in fatal crashes involving deer, but much more awareness and care are still needed to drive down the total number of crashes and injuries due to these unfortunate circumstances.”
Accidents involving deer were responsible for six fatalities in 2011, a decrease from 10 fatalities in 2010. Injuries because of an accident involving a deer decreased from 634 in 2010 to 613 in 2011.
The number of deer-vehicle accidents slightly increased to 18,039 in 2011, as compared to 17,135 in 2010, but represents an overall decrease from 18,849 in 2009. About three in every four crashes occurred on rural roadways and 71 percent occurred at twilight or nighttime.
The top 10 counties for collisions involving deer in 2011 were:
1. Cook – 554
2. Madison – 472
3. Peoria – 435
4. Will – 422
5. Fulton – 417
7. Kane – 395
8. Pike – 362
9. Lake – 360
10. LaSalle– 339
“Being a defensive driver is always a good idea, especially during the fall and winter months when deer are most active in Illinois. It’s important to be on the lookout for deer throughout the day but certainly at dawn and dusk,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Slow down, especially in areas where deer are likely to be present and keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you.”
Suggestions for motorists to avoid colliding with deer include:
• Be particularly cautious at dusk and dawn, when deer are most active.
• Keep track of locations where deer have been spotted in the past to avoid being surprised.
• Reduce speed and be prepared to stop, especially near water, farm fields and wooded areas.
• Deer will cross the road and double back. Make sure deer have moved away before proceeding.
• Be mindful that deer will follow each other. One deer can mean others are nearby or close behind.
• Avoid swerving into traffic or off the road if deer are on the roadway. Instead, slow to a stop and wait for the deer to move along.
• Flashing the headlights and honking the car horn will encourage deer to move off the road.
• Alert other motorists to the presence of deer by tapping the brakes.
If an accident with a deer does occur, drivers and passengers should provide assistance to anyone injured. Contact local, county or state law enforcement to report the incident. Do not attempt to remove a dead or injured deer from a busy roadway. Illinois law requires that all accidents resulting in damage of at least $1,500 to be reported to police.
An Illinois resident and driver of a motor vehicle involved in a vehicle-deer collision has priority in legally possessing white-tailed deer killed or injured as a result of a collision with the vehicle. If the driver does not take possession of the deer before leaving the collision scene, any citizen of Illinois who is not delinquent in child support may possess and transport the deer.
Non-residents may not claim a road-killed deer. Individuals claiming such a deer must report the possession within 24 hours at www.dnr.illinois.gov. Individuals without Internet access can report such possession by calling (217) 782-6431 before 4:30 p.m. the next business day. If any part of the deer is going to be taken to a taxidermist or tannery, the person making the online or phone report is required to request a tag at the time of report.