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Madison County leads state in accidents involving deer

Deer visit the SIU-Edwardsville campus.
Pete Burzynski | Flickr | 2007

Madison County leads the state in vehicle crashes involving deer, and November is the most at-risk month for such accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Eight people died, and more than 600 were injured in 2015 in 15,754 vehicle-deer accidents in the state. Nearly 45 percent of those crashes occurred in October, November and December. There were 440 accidents in Madison County followed by Cook County with 431. By comparison, St. Clair County reported 212 crashes involving deer.

IDOT spokesman Brian Williamsen says deer are most active at dusk during autumn, which is their mating season.

“If you’re driving at night, especially in the twilight hours this time of year, you have to be alert because there’s a decent possibility that you’ll encounter a deer out there,’’ he said.

The number of vehicle-deer crashes has risen in recent years. In 2014, there were 14,854 accidents in Illinois, with four fatalities.

IDOT offers the following tips for motorists:

  • Pay attention to deer-crossing signs and scan the sides of the road as you drive.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Deer can stop in the middle of the road or double back. If you see one deer, slow down because there will likely be others.
  • If a collision is inevitable, don’t swerve. Apply your brakes and stay in your lane. Swerving could cause a head-on collision or force your car off the road.
  •  If you do hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder. Stay in your car and turn on the hazard lights. Call 911 to report the accident. 
Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.