Illinois vehicle crashes involving deer continue to decline

By on November 6, 2011

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced that collisions between vehicles and deer declined in 2010, and reminded motorists to once again be alert for deer along roadways during one of their most active periods of the year.

“Deer crashes can be especially difficult to avoid. The best measures to avoid accidents and injuries are to slow down, wear a safety belt and remain alert this fall (while) driving through areas where deer are likely to be seen,” Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said. “The encouraging news is that collisions with deer in Illinois continue to decline. We remind all motorists to take the proper steps so the trend continues.”

The number of deer-vehicle accidents dropped to 17,135 in 2010—a decrease from 18,849 in 2009 and the lowest total since 1999, according to the latest IDOT statistics released. Approximately 77 percent of the crashes occurred on rural roadways and 67 percent during periods of darkness.

Accidents involving deer were responsible for 10 fatalities in 2010, an increase from six in 2009. Injuries because of an accident involving a deer decreased from 708 in 2009 to 634 in 2010.

The top 10 counties for collisions involving deer in 2010 were:
1. Cook—562 2. Madison—475
3. Peoria—458 4. Sangamon—411
5. Will—396 6. LaSalle—364
7. Fulton—357 8. Pike—355
9. Kane—325 10. Lake—320

“It’s always a good idea to get yourself in a defensive driving frame of mind at this time of year when deer are most active,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said. “Deer move about frequently at dawn and dusk, so it’s important that motorists are aware of their surroundings during their morning and evening commutes, especially in forested or open areas.”

Suggestions for motorists to avoid colliding with deer include:

• Be particularly cautious at dusk and dawn, when deer are most active.
• Keep track of locations where deer have been spotted in the past to avoid being surprised.
• Reduce speed and be prepared to stop, especially near water, farm fields and wooded areas.
• Deer will cross the road and double back. Make sure deer have moved away before proceeding.
• Be mindful that deer will follow each other. One deer can mean others are nearby or close behind.
• Avoid swerving into traffic or off the road if deer are on the roadway. Instead, slow to a stop and wait for the deer to move along.
• Flashing the headlights and honking the car horn will encourage deer to move off the road.
• Alert other motorists to the presence of deer by tapping the brakes.

If an accident with a deer does occur, drivers and passengers should provide assistance to anyone injured. Contact local, county or state law enforcement to report the incident. Do not attempt to remove a dead or injured deer from a busy roadway. Illinois law requires that all accidents resulting in damage of at least $1,500 to be reported to police.

The driver involved in the accident may take possession of the animal. If the driver does not want it, any Illinois resident can claim the deer. Those taking possession of the 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.

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 also must be provided to any law enforcement officer investigating the death and possession of the deer.