(WBBM) – Crashes Thursday morning between cars and deer put a spotlight on the dangers to drivers of deer mating season when the animals are especially active.

Newsradio 780’s Bart Shore reports motorists need to be on the lookout for deer especially after dusk to near sunrise and in rural and wooded areas.

There were incidents Thursday morning where motorists struck a deer in Lockport on Route 171 west of I-355 and in Bartlett on Route 59 Near Route 20.

If you spot a deer on the side of the road, slow down. A collision could cause major damage to your vehicle and could kill the deer or even kill you.

Six people were killed in Illinois in 2009, due to vehicle crashes involving deer. Statistics show that the number of people injured in deer-related crashes has decreased from 842 in 2007 to 752 in 2008 and 708 in 2009.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to stay safe on the road. If you see a deer nearby, alert your fellow motorists by gently tapping your brakes or flashing your headlights. Help yourself and help each other this fall and winter,” says Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.

The top 10 Illinois counties for deer-vehicle crashes in 2009 were:

  • Cook – 639
  • Peoria – 483
  • Madison – 478
  • Pike – 470
  • Sangamon-456
  • Fulton – 433
  • LaSalle – 409
  • Will – 401
  • Lake – 367
  • Kane – 361

The state of Illinois allows motorists to hit a deer to keep the carcass. The deer meat, or venison, is considered a delicacy by many.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources requires motorists who want to claim a deer killed in a collision with a vehicle to report the roadkill.

The report has to be made either by using the online form or by phone 217-782-6341 no later than 4:30 p.m. the next business day.

The Illinois DNR online Road Kill Reporting Form can be found at:

Preventing deer-vehicle accidents: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/deer/public.cfm

More from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Most deer-vehicle accidents (DVAs) occur during the months of October, November and December. Another peak occurs in May and June as one-year old deer are dispersing to new areas. However, DVAs can happen at any time of year. Deer are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk. Thus, it is not surprising that most accidents involving deer happen between the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. and 5 to 8 a.m. While not all deer-vehicle collisions can be prevented, there are steps that drivers can take to avoid an accident.

  • The single best way to avoid an accident is to be aware of the surroundings. Pay attention to deer crossing signs, and scan the roadsides for the “eyeshine” of deer (reflection of headlights in the deer’s eyes).
  • At night, use high-beam lights when appropriate. This may allow the deer to be seen a few seconds earlier, giving the driver enough time to avoid an accident.
  • Deer often use woodlots, fencerows, field edges or areas near water. Extra caution is needed when these habitats are close to roadways.
  • Slow down around curves in areas where deer are known to occur.
  • Slow down and prepare to stop if a deer is along the side of the road. There are likely more deer nearby. Deer will often follow one another single file across a road. Trying to cross through the middle of such a group often results in deer colliding with the side of the vehicle.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or decide to double back to the side of the road. Hard pavement such as concrete or asphalt provides poor traction for the hard and sharp hooves of deer. They may even fall down.
  • If there are deer near the road, and there are no vehicles close behind, slow down, honk the vehicle’s horn in short bursts and flash the headlights.
  • If deer are near the road, tap the brakes or use the emergency flashers to alert other drivers. Prepare to safely stop if the deer move toward the roadway.
  • If there are deer on or approaching the road, do not slam on the brakes or swerve sharply to avoid the deer. It is instinctual to do this, but doing so may cause a loss of control of the vehicle and a more severe accident.
  • Never tailgate! Always leave plenty of room between vehicles. Many severe deer vehicle accidents are caused when another vehicle becomes involved.

What To Do After a Deer-Vehicle Accident

  • Pull the vehicle off onto the shoulder of the road and turn on the emergency flashers.
  • Attend to any injured passengers. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or to pull a dead deer from the road. Do not risk being hit by another motorist.
  • Call 911 to report the accident. They will dispatch the appropriate law enforcement officials to assist at the site. Illinois law requires reporting of accidents that result in $1,500 or more in damage; additionally, an accident report must be filed.

Newsradio 780’s Helen Marshall contributed to this report.

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