Tuesday, Nov. 9


Tips to avoid deer-car crashes

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[NOV. 9, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Citing an increase in deer-vehicle collisions of more than 9 percent over the previous year, state officials have reminded motorists that autumn is the busiest season for these crashes, as deer seek mates and food sources.

"Collisions between vehicles and deer occur throughout the year, but deer are more active during the fall, and motorists on country roads, interstate highways and even urban thoroughfares need to be on the lookout," said Joel Brunsvold, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "Be especially cautious near areas where deer are likely to be present, such as wooded areas, stream and creek beds, farm field edges, and parks or forest preserves."

Last year 25,660 deer-vehicle accidents were reported in the state, up from 23,645 the year before, according to statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The number of deer-vehicle collisions has risen in five of the last six years.

"Wild deer are found everywhere in Illinois, and with more and more vehicles on the road, especially during busy commuting times in the morning and evening when deer are most active, drivers should slow down and be cautious," said Timothy W. Martin, secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The top 10 Illinois counties for deer-vehicle accidents in 2003 were:

  • Cook, 918
  • Pike, 669
  • Lake, 627
  • McHenry, 603
  • Sangamon, 597
  • Kane, 557
  • Will, 549
  • Madison, 540
  • Peoria, 508
  • LaSalle, 480

Among the suggestions for motorists to avoid deer-vehicle accidents:

  • Be especially cautious at dusk through the early evening and in the hours before sunrise when deer are most active.
  • Keep track of locations where deer have been seen in the past to avoid being surprised by deer crossings.
  • Reduce speed and be prepared to stop on roads where deer may be present, especially areas near streams or rivers, farm field edges, wooded and densely vegetated areas.
  • Be mindful that several others may follow a single deer near a road.
  • Deer may cross the roadway and double back across the road. Make sure deer have moved away before proceeding.

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  • Drivers encountering deer on the roadway should try flashing their headlights from bright to dim or honking the horn on their vehicle to try to encourage the deer to move on.
  • Alert other motorists to the presence of deer by tapping the brakes.
  • Avoid swerving into oncoming traffic or off the road if deer are on the roadway. Slow to a stop and wait for the deer to move along.

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 the police.

The driver involved in an accident involving a deer may take possession of the deer. If the driver does not want the deer, any Illinois resident may claim the animal. 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 Office of Law Enforcement of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at (217) 782-6431 to obtain a tag before delivering the deer.

[Illinois Department of Transportation news release]

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