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Our View: Stay alert for deer on roads

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Deer hunting and deer breeding seasons are upon us, which means motorists are more apt to encounter deer on the roadway.

In McHenry County, that has proven to be dangerous. The county had the ninth-most motor vehicle accidents involving deer in 2012, according to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Deer-related accidents in McHenry County in 2012 totalled 279.

Nearby Lake (333 collisions) and Kane (276) were seventh and 10th, respectively, in the state. Overall, vehicle crashes involving deer dropped statewide to 15,489 in 2012 from 18,044 in 2011. Vehicle accidents involving deer accounted for four fatalities last year compared to six in 2011, and injuries from those crashes slightly decreased to 608 from 613.

Here are some deer season safe-driving tips:

• It’s state law, but always wear your seatbelt. Sixty percent of fatal animal crashes occurred when the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

• Know the likely deer-crossing zones. Whether or not a road is marked with a deer crossing sign, be alert for deer when driving on roads or highways on the outskirts of town and in rural areas, especially where roads divide farm land from wooded land.

• When driving at night, use your high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. This won’t necessarily deter the deer from entering the roadway, but it will increase visibility so that you can more easily spot the deer.

• Know when deer are on the move. Prime times to find deer near the roadside are around dawn and from dusk to late evening.

• Brake firmly if you notice a deer near the road. Slow down and stop if necessary. Do not to swerve out of your lane into on-coming traffic or off the shoulder and into a ditch.

• If you do strike a deer, don’t approach it. An injured deer is frightened and can injure you as well as further injuring itself. Motorists are encouraged to contact their local, county or state law enforcement agency to report an accident involving deer, and should not attempt to remove a dead or injured deer from the roadway. State law requires that all crashes resulting in damage of at least $1,500 be reported to police.

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