Fall means frisky deer can cause car crashes

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Fall driving can get risky when deer get frisky. This saying represents the next couple of months, as the peak of deer mating season is here.

(Photo: National Park Service / License Link)

Last October, Julie Boggie was driving her call around 9:30 p.m. on Illinois Route 251, when the unexpected happened. She says, "It was pretty bad. Both of the airbags deployed, I had my daughter with me in the car and my adult son was driving in the vehicle behind me."

Because it's the peek of deer mating season, this also means more motor vehicle crashes involving deer occur. Boggie says, "It was pretty shocking for all of us really. I guess in the end, I'm thankful I didn't have enough time to react because I might have swerved, you know to try and avoid it as it was, I just hit it dead on."

She did the right thing because when it comes to deer collisions, swerving is never the answer. Mark Wilson of Kar Kraft in Rockford, continues to get deer vs. vehicle calls at his body shop of over 40 years. He says Julie did the right thing and other drivers should take precaution. Saying, "At all times, people try and swerve and miss the deer. A lot of times, they go down into the ditch, strike a tree or a telephone pole. I tell our customers it's a scary situation, you don't want to hurt the animal but just hit the animal and try and stay on the road that way you aren't going into the oncoming lane."

In 2018, there were 15,636 motor vehicle crashes involving deer in the State of Illinois. Most of these resulted in damage to property or vehicles only. 630 of those accidents caused personal injuries and 8 were fatal.

40% of the 15,636 crashes occurred in the period of October-December, with November being the highest-risk month. Always remember that deer crashes can occur anywhere, but in the Stateline one specific area sees higher numbers. Wilson says, "A lot of rural areas, they bend down in the corn fields and they get some running in at night."

In 2018, Winnebago County has 235 crashes with deer, Stephenson County with 201 and Boone County with 76. Cook County, which includes the City of Chicago, was Illinois' top county for crashes involving deer, with 476 crashes last year.

When you're out driving, officials say this is the time to be more aware of your surroundings, scan the roads for eye shine from deer eyes with your brights and slow down if you do see deer. If you hit a deer, you are urged to pull over and turn on your hazard lights. When this occurs, be sure to call 911 and do not get out to check the deer until law enforcement arrives.

Julie Boggie says, "I certainly didn't expect a deer to pop out at me in such a highly traveled area." Always remember than while 90% of deer crashes in 2018 occurred in rural areas, crashes can occur anywhere at any time.

Stay more aware, as the deer mating season continues through December. And remember, "Don't veer for deer." Always continue straight to avoid further injury to you and passengers in the vehicle.