ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Cooler temperatures often signal more activity from kids in school to picking pumpkins or apples at a favorite orchard. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources say it’s also a sign deer are feeling more amorous. They remind drivers to be vigilant during deer mating season, especially during early morning and evening hours.
In 2018, there were 15,636 motor vehicle crashes involving deer in the state; 14,998 resulted in damage to property or vehicles only, while 630 caused personal injuries. Eight were fatal. More than 40% of the crashes 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:
- Cook: 476
- Peoria: 391
- Madison: 377
- Will: 374
- Sangamon: 360
- Fulton: 331
- Williamson: 315
- Rock Island: 310
- McHenry: 308
- Kane: 307
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, 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.
Acting Illinois Transportation secretary Omer Osman says, “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.”
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 assist. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.