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  Deer Hunting begins today in Southern Illinois  
  by Cindy Parroné |  

A quarter of a million deer hunters hit the woods today in Illinois for the first shotgun season of the year, which continues through Sunday, November 18th. The deer have already been restless and mobile because it is mating season, but with the report of gunshots echoing around them, deer are even more likely to dart out onto a roadway. This annual ritual makes November the month with the largest number of deer/vehicle accidents (DVA) followed by December, October and June.

Statistics recently released by the insurance industry found that the average property damage deer claim ran about $3,305 in the first half of 2012. With reference to bodily injury, there were 613 persons hurt and six fatalities from DVA in Illinois during 2011. The chance of hitting a deer in our state is 1:250. Illinois ranks 26th in the U.S. for DVA, and the top ten DVA counties in Illinois are well north of Jackson County.

The most common driver DVA error is swerving to avoid hitting the deer. Instead of colliding with the animal, the vehicle is likely to leave the roadway to flip in a ditch, hit another vehicle or hit an object such as a tree, utility pole or guard rail. Swerving causes more significant damage and injury than a direct deer hit. The insurance carrier categorizes an animal collision as a comprehensive claim, which is not surcharged as heavily as a non-animal collision. Avoidance of the deer resulting in contact with another vehicle or object is an at-fault, surchargeable accident.

If you want to avoid harvesting a deer with your car, consider the following precautions:

  1. Be on the lookout for deer especially at dawn and dusk.
  2. Be on the watch for deer where signs mark deer crossings.
  3. Look for deer where you have seen them or deer carcasses previously.
  4. Use caution when deer habitats such as field edges, woodlots and water are near the roadway.
  5. When driving at night, watch for headlight reflections from the deer’s eyes. Using the high beams when there is no oncoming traffic is encouraged. Flashing your bright lights at the deer can wake them from their “trance” and scare them away from the road, especially if you honk the horn a few times.
  6. If you spot a deer, slow down and use your emergency flashers to warn other drivers. Be prepared to stop.
  7. Do not follow too closely behind another vehicle. If they encounter a deer, you could end up colliding with them from behind, which would be your fault.
  8. Wear your seatbelt.
  9. Remain alert, awake and sober.
  10. Minimize distractions inside your vehicle like loud music, cell phone use, texting, map reading or conversing with passengers.
  11. Do not rely on “deer whistles”.

Drive safely Southern Illinois! May the venison on your table be a hunting trophy rather than road kill!


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