SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig announced today a significant decrease in fatalities related to deer vs. vehicle accidents statewide and says he is hopeful that trend continues. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) want to remind motorists that deer are more active during the fall, which increases the likelihood of vehicle crashes involving deer.
Statistics show that in 2008, there were 24,212 deer-vehicle crashes reported in Illinois. That’s 814 fewer crashes than in 2007. The number of people injured in these crashes also decreased, from 928 in 2006 to 843 in 2007 and 758 in 2008. Two people were killed in Illinois in 2008, due to a vehicle crash involving a deer: probably should change this sentence to read: Two people were killed in Illinois in 2008, due to vehicle crashes involving deer.
“Crashes involving deer are very difficult to avoid, which is why we strongly urge motorists to be alert and buckle up and motorcyclists to wear a helmet to help prevent injury or death,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “The fatal crashes involving deer have dropped significantly in the last year and we want to continue to see that number decrease, but we need your help.”
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.
“Deer are most active during dawn and dusk and that means motorists need to be on alert, especially when driving to and from work,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Keep a mental log of places you drive where deer are seen regularly and slow down in those areas. And if you see one deer cross the road, always assume there are more to follow.”
The top 10 Illinois counties for deer-vehicle accidents in 2008 were:
Cook – 1008
Peoria – 642
Madison – 630
Pike – 617
Will – 570
Lake – 553
Kane – 524
LaSalle – 510
Fulton – 431
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.