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By Cynthia Haggitt
Driving to work takes an estimated 4 hours out of the day to get to my office in Jerseyville ,which is home base for the Calhoun News- Herald.
So it’s two hours in the morning and two hours at night. I leave Chatham 6:45 a.m. sometimes 7 a.m and I take Route 4 through Carlinville, Ill until I get to 16 West. It is a scenic drive and there are alot of deer either alive or dead alongside the road. Just last Thursday night, while driving, a huge buck ran out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the animal.
In the morning, just the day, ironically there was a car pulled over and in the middle of the road was a dead deer. It got me wondering why I keep seeing so many deer this week and after some research I found out that November is historically the most dangerous month for vehicle collisions with deer. After settling into my desk at work I learned there was an accident in Calhoun County on Tuesday, Nov 5 and it involved a deer.
Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington mentioned that the collision happened early Tuesday morning.
“ I was there at the scene. It was around 5:30 a.m. and a semi ran off the road up here, after hitting a big buck deer,” Heffington said. The deer got wrapped up underneath the front of the truck, and it messed up his fender and he went off the roadway on the east side of route 100 just by the high school’s north parking or north driveway.”
Heffington said the driver was ok. He ended up with some scratches and stuff.
“He didn’t have to be transported to the hospital or anything, but we had to close down the highway for the better part of the morning until they could remove the accident damage from the semi and the deer. Heffington explained.
After talking with Heffington and doing some research, it is peak mating season – called a rut – for white-tailed deer across Illinois. This often happens in late October to mid-November. During this time, deer tend to move about more freely, causing an uptick in collisions with vehicles.
“Although a collision with a deer can happen any time of year, we are entering peak season,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said in a new release.
Collisions with vehicles is second only to hunting in causes of deer mortality in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
According to State Farm, animal collisions have gone up since the pandemic started. In 2020, 13,787 motor vehicle crashes in Illinois involved deer, according to the news release. Of these, 13,166 caused damage to property or vehicles, while 611 also resulted in injuries. Ten of the crashes were fatal.
In fact, studies show that in the last year, hitting animals while driving has gone up, even though Ill is a medium risk, it still ranks 11th in the country for these collisions.
Deer crashes happen the most often from October through December, the deer hunting and mating season. A lot of times it is in the early morning hours and right at dusk because animals are usually more active during these times.
Experts say the best way to avoid accidents is to watch your speed. Keep an out in your surroundings, especially if you are driving on the backroads or interstate highways.
According to Wildlife Illinois, “Deer collisions in the fall are enough of a public safety problem that the state has devised the “Don’t veer for deer” driving strategy to help keep drivers safe. The state advises drivers to take note of deer crossing road signs, as these indicate areas where deer are more likely to be seen.”
An Illinois press release has some tips for drivers to make them more aware and help them steer clear of collisions:
■ Slow down if you see a deer. They travel in groups so if there is one there are others not very far away.
■ Look around the sides of the road for the shining eyes of deer. Deer’s eyes reflect headlight so you may see them before they cross the road.
■ Watch for the unexpected. Deer will freeze in headlights or will turn around and go back the way they came.
■ The state advises that in the event you do hit a deer, pull your car off to the shoulder if possible and turn on your hazard lights. Call 911 to report the accident and request emergency assistance. Do not exit your car to try to check on the deer or remove it from the road.