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October begins peak season for deer-car crashes

IDOT, IDNR remind motorists, “Don’t veer for deer”

information provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (October 3, 2020) – “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.”

Autumn is deer mating season, a time of increased activity at dawn and dusk from October through December. IDOT reminds motorists to take the following steps to help ensure safety:

  • Be aware of surroundings, especially in areas with deer crossing signs.
  • Scan the sides of the road for eye shine—the reflection of headlights in deer’s eyes.
  • Slow down if a deer is sighted. Deer travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or double back.
  • Deer are adaptable and can flourish in rural, suburban, and urban environments.
  • If a collision is inevitable, try to glance the vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into opposite lanes of traffic.

Deer crash stats

In 2019, a total of 16,213 crashes involved deer in Illinois. Of these, 15,605 resulted in damage to property or vehicles, while 604 caused personal injuries. Four of the crashes were fatal.

More than 40% of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November, and December, with November being the highest-risk month. Rural environments were the site of more than 90% of all motor vehicle crashes involving deer, with more than 70% occurring at twilight or nighttime.

The top 10 Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2019 are:

  1. Cook 472
  2. Madison 434
  3. Sangamon 406
  4. Will 375
  5. Fulton 346
  6. Peoria 340
  7. Kane 337
  8. Rock Island 318
  9. Jackson 288
  10. Bureau 285

If you do hit a deer

IDNR Director Colleen Callahan says, “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.”

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.

For more information on how to claim a deer that was involved in a crash, visit

To report possession of a deer killed in a deer-vehicle crash, fill out the form at

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) facilitates the inter-connectivity of all transportation modes for the efficient movement of people and goods. The roots of the agency can be traced back more than a century, for as long as cars, highways, and air traffic have moved people around the state. IDOT sends traffic-related news releases to The Lansing Journal, and we publish those that are relevant to readers in our community.
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  1. One more tip about the deer if you know you are going to hit the deer “DO NOT HIT THE BRAKE HARD!” hitting the brakes hard pushes the front of the car down and under the deer lifting the deer up in the air possibly into your windshield, and love one!! This has happened many times! That instinct would be hard for most of us but think family not the deer! I hope I never have to make that decision!

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