SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) want to remind motorists that deer are more active during the fall, and as cooler weather approaches, the likelihood of vehicle crashes involving deer increases.
Fall is the busiest season for these crashes as deer seek mates and food sources. Statistics show that in 2006, there were 25,491 deer-vehicle crashes reported in Illinois – up five percent from 24,248 reported the previous year. The number of people injured in these crashes also increased slightly, from 901 in 2005 to 939 in 2006. Only one person was killed in Illinois in 2006, due to a vehicle crash involving a deer. That number dropped sharply from the 11 fatalities reported in 2005.
“Deer crashes occur throughout the year, but it is important to point out that deer are most active in the fall and motorists need to be alert,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “Drivers should always buckle up and motorcyclists should wear helmets and always be aware of their surroundings.”
Following standard safety practices can save lives, in the event of crashes involving deer. A nationwide study of vehicle-animal crashes conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that 60% of people killed riding in vehicles were not wearing seat belts, and 65% of motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets.
“Motorists need to be cautious every fall when deer are mating and are most active. Drivers need to be on the lookout for these animals on country roads, interstates and even urban streets,” said Sam Flood, Acting Director of IDNR. “Be especially cautious where deer are likely to be present, such as wooded areas, stream and creek beds, farm field edges, and parks or forest preserves.”
The top 10 Illinois counties for deer-vehicle accidents in 2006 were:
Cook - 976
Pike - 670
Will - 601
Sangamon - 598
Lake - 588
Peoria - 565
Madison - 547
Kane - 510
Jefferson - 498
McHenry - 447
Suggestions for motorists to avoid deer-vehicle accidents include:
• Be particularly cautious at dusk and dawn, when deer are most active.
• Reduce speed and be prepared to stop on roads where deer may be present.
• Deer may cross the roadway and double back across the road surface. Make sure deer have moved away, before proceeding.
• Be mindful that several others may follow a single deer near or across a road.
• Keep track of locations where deer have been seen in the past, to avoid being surprised by deer crossing roads.
• Avoid swerving into oncoming traffic or off the road if deer are on the roadway. Instead, slow to a stop and wait for the deer to move along.
• Drivers encountering deer on the roadway should try flashing their headlights from bright to dim or honking their horn to encourage the deer to move on.
• Drivers can alert other motorists to the presence of deer by tapping their brakes.
If a deer-vehicle accident does occur, drivers and passengers involved should provide assistance to anyone injured. Contact local, county or state law enforcement. Do not attempt to remove a dead or injured deer from a busy roadway. Illinois law requires all accidents resulting in damage of $500 or more to be reported and an accident report to be filed with police.
The driver involved in an accident involving a deer may take possession of the animal. If the driver does not want it, any Illinois resident may claim the deer. Anyone possessing the deer must keep a personal record of the date the deer was claimed, the sex of the animal, the location of the accident, and the place where the deer or deer parts are stored. This information must be kept until the deer is consumed or no longer in the possession of any person. This information must be provided to any law enforcement officer investigating the death and possession of the deer.
Those taking possession of vehicle-killed deer are not required to phone in a report and obtain a registration number for the deer, unless the deer is taken to a taxidermist or tannery. If the deer is to be taken to a taxidermist or tannery, please call the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement at (217) 782-6431 to obtain a tag, before delivering the deer.