Fall means more deer-auto collisions. Here's what suburban drivers can do to stay safe.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is warning drivers to be alert to avoid collisions with deer this fall.
"Deer activity and the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions increase between October and December during deer mating season," forest district ecologist Brian Kraskiewicz said in a statement. "Please be more aware of deer crossing roads, especially between 6 and 9 p.m. and at dawn."
The district cited a study from State Farm Insurance that ranked Illinois as 34th in the nation for deer-vehicle accidents in 2019 -- a 1-in-144 chance of having a collision, an increase from a 1-in-200 chance in 2018.
The district also warned that even though many new cars come with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, not all systems are designed to recognize large animals.
To lower the risk of hitting a deer or to minimize damages, the forest district shared these reminders and tips for drivers:
Be wary and aware: Though deer are common along woods, fields, fence rows and waterways, drivers can still encounter them almost anywhere.
Drivers should heed deer warning signs, since they are placed where deer-auto collisions are likely to occur. Be careful going around curves or when approaching favored deer crossings.
Also drivers should make note of where they have spotted deer in the past.
If deer are seen: Deer often travel in groups. So if one deer safely crosses in front of the car, slow down and expect more to follow.
Drivers who encounter deer in the road, should not assume they will run off as the car approaches. Deer may bolt or quickly change direction without warning. Drivers should slow to a stop and wait, or to flash their headlights to encourage the deer to move.
If a deer collision is imminent: The forest district suggests drivers should not swerve to avoid deer because it could result in a more severe crash.
Also, a horn should only be used if a driver is about to collide with a deer. Otherwise the noise could confuse or startle deer that are not in the vehicle's direct path.
If an accident does occur, drivers and passengers should not attempt to remove dead or injured deer from busy roads. Contact local law enforcement for help. Illinois law requires drivers to report to police any deer-related accident with more than $1,500 in damages.
For more information from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, call (630) 933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.