Drivers cautioned to watch for deer, as breeding season is underway

Deer crossing the road
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Deer breeding season is here, and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County says that means drivers need to be more cautious.

“October through December is deer breeding season, and these large animals won’t think twice about crossing busy roads in their search for mates, especially around dusk and dawn,” said Forest Preserve District ecologist Brian Kraskiewicz in a news release.

Illinois drivers have 1 in 152 chance of hitting a deer

According to State Farm insurance, a driver in Illinois has a 1 in 152 chance of hitting a deer while driving. That qualifies as a “medium chance,” according to the company. Illinois is 11th in the nation when it comes to the number of claims filed by drivers who hit an animal from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

Steps to help lower your chances of hitting a deer

But there are steps drivers can take to help lower their odds of striking a deer.

First, slow down, and keep a watchful eye on the side of the road. That holds particularly true during dusk and dawn, and when traveling around curves.

If you see a deer somewhere once, make note, and be mindful if returning to that area. Deer crossing signs should also be taken as serious indicators of where deer are known to congregate and cross.

Deer are unpredictable, and can quickly change direction, so if you see one on the road, don’t assume it will run off. They also tend to travel in pairs and groups, so if you see one, another or a few may be close behind.

If you do see a deer on the road, if safe to do so, slow to a stop and wait for it to clear the road, flashing your headlights to help move it along. Honking often simply confuses the deer, and should only be done if a collision looks inevitable. Swerving is not encouraged as it may create a more severe crash.

Experts also say that automatic emergency braking systems often don’t trigger for large animals, so they cannot be used as an effective warning mechanism.

Finally, if an accident with a deer does occur, call police, and don’t attempt to remove the animal from the road. Drivers in Illinois are legally required to report to police any deer-related accident with more than $1,500 in damage.

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