Deer mating season runs from October through December. That means male deer can jump out on the road in front of your vehicle – before you ever have a chance to react.
“Especially when the sun is coming up or when the sun is going down, be extra alert,” Maria Castenada, director of communications for the Illinois Department of Transportation, cautioned.
The number one thing a motorist can do to stay safe is to slow down when they see a deer area warning sign, Castenada said. Deer are creatures of habit, she said. Deer signs are put up in areas where deer are known to cross the roadway year after year.
“When you are driving slowly, you give yourself more driver reaction time. You have a much better chance to avoid a collision,” she said.
Whatever you do, try not to swerve, she said. Honk your horn and hit the brakes. Swerving can cause your vehicle to roll over or get hit by oncoming traffic.
If a crash seems inevitable, don't look at the deer. If you look at the deer, you are much more likely to hit the deer. Look where you want your vehicle to go.
Brake firmly and quickly.
Steer your vehicle to strike the deer at an angle, rather than hitting it head-on. Let up on the brake just before you hit the deer to prevent the deer from coming through the windshield.
If you hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder. Turn on your hazard lights. And call 911 to report the accident. Do not exit the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.
“You really have to expect the unexpected with deer,” Castenada said. “They tend to run across the road. Then they may circle back. You never know exactly what they are going to do,” she said.
Deer tend to travel in groups, she said.
“If you avoid hitting one deer, you might hit another one that may be right behind it,” she said
The number one county for deer crash accidents may be surprising: Cook County.
“Especially on the northwest side of Chicago, there are a lot of forest preserve-type areas. You would not necessarily think they are big enough for deer, but deer can adapt in very small areas,” Castenada said.
The top 10 Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2020:
- Cook: 469
- Madison: 375
- Will: 322
- Sangamon: 308
- Peoria: 306
- Kane: 275
- McHenry: 271
- Fulton: 268
- Lake: 250
- Williamson: 249
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