(Oct. 5, 2021) — The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County urges drivers to slow down and stay alert to avoid deer-vehicle collisions this fall, when the animals’ breeding season increases the risk of accidents.
“Deer activity and the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions increase between October and December during deer mating season,” said Forest Preserve District ecologist Brian Kraskiewicz. “So as we head into fall, please be more aware of deer crossing roads, especially between 6 and 9 p.m. and at dawn.”
According to State Farm insurance, Illinois ranked 34th in the nation for deer-vehicle accidents in 2020. A driver in the state had a 1-in-148 chance of having a collision, down slightly from a 1-in-144 chance in 2019.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about 1 million car accidents with deer each year, which kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries, and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage.
A Consumer Reports analysis shows that 38% of new cars now come with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, but not all systems are designed to recognize large animals.
Below are ways to lower the risk of hitting a deer.
- Reduce your speed and watch for deer on the edge of the road, especially at dawn and dusk. They’re common along woods, fields, fencerows and waterways, but you can encounter them almost anywhere.
- Make note of where you’ve seen deer before.
- Be careful when going around curves or when approaching favored deer crossings.
- Don’t assume that a deer in the road will run off as you approach. It may bolt or quickly change direction without warning.
- Don’t use you horn unless it looks like you are going to collide with a deer. Distant noise may confuse the deer. Close noise may produce an extra burst of speed from the animal, but there is no way to predict how a deer will respond.
- Heed deer warning signs. They are placed in areas where deer-auto collisions are likely to occur.
- Do not swerve to avoid deer; it could result in a more severe crash. Slow to a stop and wait. Flash your headlights to encourage the animals to move.
If an accident does occur, drivers and passengers should not attempt to remove dead or injured deer from busy roads. Instead, contact local law enforcement for help. Illinois law requires drivers to report to police any deer-related accident with more than $1,500 in damage.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.