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updated: 10/26/2011 3:03 PM

Deer make night driving on suburban roads dangerous

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  • A doe makes a brave dash across Route 31 in Elgin. Illinois ranks third in the nation for deer-crash collisions.

    A doe makes a brave dash across Route 31 in Elgin. Illinois ranks third in the nation for deer-crash collisions.
    Christopher Hankins/File photo


Love is in the air -- for deer, that is. And that means it's time for suburban drivers to be extra cautious, as the four-legged suitors dash across roads hoping to find a mate.

More than 500,000 deer-car crashes occur each year in the United States, with the majority in November and December, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average cost per accident, once you factor in injuries and vehicle damage, totals more than $10,000, according to the Institute.

Perfect examples of this Wednesday would be the car that hit one such deer on Golf Road near Barrington Road in Hoffman Estates, or the deer that was hit by a Blue Line CTA train near Cumberland Road in Chicago.

The danger is higher in areas where urban growth and nature collide. Illinois ranks third in deer-car crashes, according to a study by State Farm Insurance. Pennsylvania has the highest; Michigan is second. Indiana ranks seventh and Wisconsin ranks 10th.

Here are some tips to help you avoid a crash with a deer:

• Be vigilant during early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.

• Use your high-beam headlights, which will reflect in the deer's eyes so you can see them better.

• Blow your horn with one long blast to frighten a deer away.

• Brake firmly rather than swerving, which confuses a deer trying to dodge your car (and you can run off the road or hit another car).

• Deer seldom run alone. When you see one, look out for another.

• Pay attention to deer crossing signs -- they really are there for a reason.

• If you hit a deer, don't touch it. Injured animals can hurt you or themselves more. Move your car off the road and call police.

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