As we are amidst one of the most active periods of the year for wildlife activity in the Midwest, motorists can expect to see more wildlife animals crossing roadways than usual; specifically, deer make up the majority of these animals. While our attorneys continue to warn drivers of the potential dangers associated with an increase in wildlife, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently announced that serious accidents, injuries, and fatalities in accidents involving deer actually declined last year.
Accidents involving deer were responsible for six fatalities in 2012, a decrease from 10 fatalities in 2011. Injuries due to an accident involving a deer decreased from 634 in 2011 to 613 in 2012 as well. Though the number of deer-vehicle accidents slightly increased from 2011 to 2012, an overall decrease is represented since 2009. Statistics from IDOT show that out of the ten worst states for animal collisions, Illinois ranks third. Illinois’ top three counties for collisions involving deer in 2011 were Cook, Madison, and Peoria, ranging from about 400-500 collisions throughout the year. About three in every four crashes occurred on rural roadways and 71% occurred at twilight or nighttime.
Steps that you can take to avoid a collision with a deer include being cautious at dusk and dawn when deer are most active, keeping track of locations where deer have been spotted, reducing speed and being prepared to stop in areas with high levels of wildlife activity, avoiding swerving into traffic or off the road if you encounter a deer, and flashing your headlights and honking your car horn to encourage deer to move off the road.
“Throughout the fall deer hunting season and into the winter months, we strongly remind all motorists to please slow down, drive defensively, obey posted speed limits, and be especially alert for wildlife at night along Illinois roadways,” the Illinois Transportation Secretary said. “We are pleased to report the recent decline in fatal crashes involving deer, but much more awareness and care are still needed to drive down the total number of crashes and injuries due to these unfortunate circumstances.”
“Being a defensive driver is always a good idea, especially during the fall and winter months when deer are most active in Illinois. It’s important to be on the lookout for deer throughout the day but certainly at dawn and dusk,” said the director of IDNR “Slow down, especially in areas where deer are likely to be present and keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you.
If you are in an accident with a deer or any wildlife animal, be sure to report the accident to your local police department and contact your insurance company if your vehicle sustained any damage. Although many animal-related accidents are unavoidable, you may have legal recourse available to you if a driver who struck an animal was traveling at excessive speeds, did not keep proper look out for the animal, and as a result caused injury to you or other vehicles and pedestrians on the roadway. Please contact our personal injury lawyers for more information regarding your potential lawsuit.