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Auto and Road User Journal
May 5, 1997
TranSafety, Inc.
(U.S. and Canada)
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402

Highway Safety Publications Catalog. Articles on Road Engineering, Road Maintenance & Management, and Injury Litigation. Information and consulting for the Automobile and Road User, as well as for law professionals in accident investigations.
TranSafety's free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and highway safety publications catalog. See our free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and a highway safety publications catalog.

Spring and Fall High-Risk Seasons for Vehicle-Wildlife Collisions

Illinois and Missouri have relatively high rates of reported vehicle-wildlife collisions. In 1994 Illinois reported 17,118 such collisions, and Missouri reported 5,197. In a search of Internet sites, TranSafety found both states working to get messages out to motorists warning of the increased danger of deer-vehicle collisions during certain times of the year.

Illinois Warns of Spring Hazard

On May 20, 1996, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Department) issued a press release entitled "Motorists Warned to Be on the Lookout for Deer." "Spring flowers, green pastures and the season when deer-auto accidents increase all come with the onset of warm weather," advised the press release.

Department Director Brent Manning said, "Spring is fawning season and deer will be quite active through June. Females are preparing to give birth, and yearlings are leaving their mothers, striking out on their own." He added, "With this in mind, drivers should slow down and keep a sharp eye on roadways and roadsides, especially during the hours around dawn and dusk."

The press release referred to the over 17,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions on Illinois highways during 1994, adding that these collisions resulted in five motorist fatalities.

Marty Jones, urban deer project manager for the Department of Natural Resources, offered defensive driving advice. "Motorists should be particularly wary where roadways cross creeks and rivers, divide wooded corridors, bisect fence rows or where field edges run perpendicular to the road," Jones said. He suggested that deer seldom travel alone; therefore, a motorist seeing one deer should be ready for the sudden appearance of more. The press release advised, "Drivers seeing deer along a road should slowly reduce speed and sound their car's horn in short bursts. If the deer are seen in the road at night, motorists should blink their headlights from bright to dim."

Missouri Warns of Fall Hazard

A fall article entitled "Deer Increase Road Hazards" appeared in The Cabin, an on-line magazine from Gold Stag Communications, Inc. The article asked, "Why do male white- tailed deer risk their lives crossing roads each fall?" The answer: "To get to the female deer on the other side."

Lonnie Hansen of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) emphasized, "The normal caution a deer takes before crossing a busy road just isn't there during the rut." Consequently, more than one-fourth of Missouri's deer-vehicle collisions happen during November.

MDC suggested many of the same precautions mentioned by Illinois: slow down; watch for deer, especially in wooded areas or where you see deer crossing signs; be aware that deer travel in groups; flash your car lights; and honk your horn. Hansen adds a warning for motorists who might swerve to avoid hitting a deer. "Some of the most serious accidents occur when a deer jumps out onto the road, a driver swerves to avoid it and loses control of his car," said Hansen. He continued, "You're at less risk of serious injury if you hit the deer, than you are if you lose control and hit another car or a tree."

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