Public Health and Safety Issues
Avoiding Deer-Vehicle Collisions
Most deer-vehicle collisions occur during the months of October, November, and December. Another peak occurs in May and June as one-year old deer are dispersing to new areas. However, deer-vehicle collisions can happen at any time of year. Deer are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk. Thus, it is not surprising that most accidents involving deer happen between the hours of 510 pm and 58 am. While not all deer-vehicle collisions can be prevented, there are steps that you can take to avoid an accident.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to deer crossing signs and scan the roadsides for the eyeshine of deer (reflection of headlights in the deers eyes).
- At night, use your high-beam lights when appropriate. This may allow you to spot deer a few seconds earlier, giving you enough time to avoid an accident.
- Deer often use woodlots, fencerows, field edges, or areas near water. Extra caution is needed when these habitats are close to roadways.
- Slow down as you go around curves in areas where deer are known to occur.
- Slow down if you see a deer at the side of the road. There are likely more deer nearby. Deer will often follow one another single file across a road.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or decide to double back.
- If there are deer near the road and there are no vehicles close behind you, slow down, honk your horn in short bursts, and flash your lights.
- Tap your brakes or use your emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
- If there are deer on or approaching the road, do not slam on your brakes or swerve sharply to avoid the deer. Doing so may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and have a severe accident.
- If contact with the deer is inevitable try to glance off the animal to minimize the impact, but avoid steering into oncoming traffic.
What To Do If You Hit a Deer
- Pull off onto the shoulder of the road and turn on your emergency flashers.
- Attend to any injured passengers. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or to pull a dead deer from the road.
- Call 911 to report the accident. They will dispatch the appropriate law enforcement officials to assist you. Illinois law requires reporting of accidents that result in $500 or more in damage; additionally, an accident report must be filed.
- A motorist who hits and kills a deer with a motorized vehicle can legally claim the deer to salvage the meat, hide, and antlers. Write down the date the deer was taken, the sex of the deer, the location of the accident, and the method by which the carcass was disposed. Keep this information on file.
- If the motorist who struck the deer does not claim it, any other Illinois citizen may legally claim the deer. Otherwise, the municipal, county or state roads department can remove the carcass.
- If the deer is to be taken to a taxidermist or tannery, contact an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer to obtain a tag before delivering the deer.