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In Illinois, deer mating season begins in October and runs from rough January, with a peak in the middle of November, according to Wildlife Illinois.
Between the months of October and December, deer become more active, especially at dawn and dusk. In 2021, more than 42% of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November, and December, with November being the highest-risk month.
Officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resource remind motorists to practice safety while on the road.
Both agencies remind drivers to be aware of all surroundings, scan the sides of the road for eye shine, slow down for a deer sighting, and prepare for the unexpected. Additionally, deer can also appear suddenly in surprising environments, so they also encourage everyone to be on alert, slow down, and pay attention in areas where they are known to travel.
Here are things you can do while driving during deer season:
Deer are pack animals, and rarely travel alone. If a deer crosses in front of you, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and watch for more deer darting across the road.
Deer are most active at dusk and dawn: periods when your vision is most compromised. To add to their terrible timing, deer are on the move during mating season (between October and January) when you’re more likely to travel after the sun sets. Slow down and stay alert, especially after dark.
First, look for the road signs. The yellow diamonds with the deer on it are placed in high-traffic areas for deer. You may also spot a deer because their eyes will brightly reflect a car’s headlights, making them easier to spot.
On a multi-lane road, the center lane is your safest bet for avoiding a deer collision, as long as your local traffic laws permit it. This gives deer plenty of space; if your vehicle does startle them, it gives you more time to react if one darts onto the road.
If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and worsen your situation. Not to mention, deer are unpredictable, and you could swerve directly into their changed path.
Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare deer out of the road. Do not rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer—studies have shown them to be largely ineffective at minimizing accidents.