As autumn unfolds in Illinois, high school football and vibrant forests fill the state, but it also marks the onset of deer mating season. To address the heightened risk of deer-related accidents, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) advise motorists to be cautious.
Deer are now more active, particularly during dawn and dusk. Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman warned against sudden steering maneuvers, emphasizing the potential loss of vehicle control. He added, "Always prepare for the unexpected. A deer might stop in the middle of the road or double back. They also frequently travel in groups, so when you see one, there likely are others nearby."
In 2022, Illinois saw 14,524 deer-related crashes, with 13,892 causing property or vehicle damage and 629 resulting in injuries. Tragically, four crashes led to fatalities. This time of year poses the highest risk, with over 40% of such crashes occurring in October, November, and December, with November being the peak. Rural areas witnessed more than 70% of these incidents, mainly during twilight or nighttime.
To ensure driver safety during this critical period, the IDOT and IDNR offer these driving tips.
Stay aware and be vigilant, particularly in deer crossing areas. Check for eye shine on the road's sides, indicating deer presence. Reduce Speed if you spot a deer and expect more. Expect the unexpected and be ready for deer to suddenly stop on the road. Avoid sudden moves, in unavoidable collisions, and try to minimize damage by not swerving.
Deer can appear unexpectedly, so drivers are urged to be cautious, slow down, and stay alert in known deer-crossing zones. By adhering to these guidelines, motorists can reduce the risk of accidents during deer mating season, ensuring safer roads this fall.