ILLINOIS (WEHT) – Fall is here, and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) are reminding drivers that deer have become more active, mainly at dawn and dusk from October through December.

“Deer often travel in groups, so if a deer crosses the road ahead of you, there is a good possibility that another will follow. Always be prepared for the unexpected. A deer might stop in the middle of the road or double back,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Don’t veer for deer – it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and swerve into another lane or off the road.”

Officials say in 2021, 14,522 motor vehicle crashes involved deer in Illinois. Of these, 13,936 resulted in damage to property or vehicles, while 584 caused personal injuries. Two of the crashes resulted in fatalities.

Officials have these driving tips for deer mating season:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in areas with deer crossing signs.
  • Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in their eyes.
  • Slow down if you see a deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road.
  • If a collision is inevitable, don’t veer. Try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic or off the road.
  • Deer can appear suddenly in surprising environments, so be on alert, slow down and pay attention in areas where they are known to travel.

The top Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2021 that are closest to the Tristate are:

  • #7 – Effingham – 294 crashes
  • #8 – Fulton – 289 crashes
  • #9 – McHenry – 264 crashes
  • #10 – Jefferson – 256 crashes

Officials say 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 information on how to claim a deer involved in a crash, or to report possession of a deer killed in a deer-vehicle crash, click here or visit the IDNR website.