Indiana, Illinois State Police offer safety tips for deer in traffic

Regional News

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — It’s that time of year again for drivers to be aware of deer darting into and crossing the roadways. With autumn comes deer mating season, a time of increased activity at dawn and dusk from October through December.

Both Indiana and Illinois saw more than 16,000 crashes involving deer last year. Illinois accidents involved 604 with injuries and four fatalities; Indiana saw 347 incidents with injuries and five with fatalities.

“We are starting to begin our peak season for deer-vehicle crashes,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We ask all drivers to keep a watchful eye and remember the cardinal rule: don’t veer for deer. While the urge to swerve is instinctual, it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or drive into oncoming traffic, increasing the severity of a crash.”

“Deer populations are common in both rural and urban areas which means deer-vehicle collisions can happen anywhere,” added Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan. “Remember, if you do hit a deer, report the accident to local law enforcement or Conservation Police Officer. They can help control traffic, clear the roadway or in the event the animal must be euthanized.”

State Police from both states offered safety precautions to keep in mind:

• Be cautious while driving during dawn or dusk hours. Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, but can appear at any time. If there is no oncoming traffic, turn on your bright lights. You’ll not only be able to see more clearly, but you’ll have a greater chance of spotting a deer from a distance and allow you to react accordingly.

• Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in their eyes.

• Slow down if you see a deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby. If you see a deer, slow down, tap your brakes to warn others, or flash your lights and sound your horn to warn other motorists. It will give everyone an opportunity to slow down. 

• Pay heed to deer crossing signs, and prepare for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or double back.

• If a collision is inevitable, try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into opposite lanes of traffic.

• 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. Contact local authorities to report it so you can get an accident report for your insurance company. 

Remember deer are unpredictable and could dart into traffic at any time, so be alert at all times. 

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