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While injuries down, car vs. deer crashes up across region

The number deer-related accidents Kane County was up most recent reporting period mirroring statewide trend.| AP~file photo

The number of deer-related accidents in Kane County was up in the most recent reporting period, mirroring a statewide trend.| AP~file photo

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by the numbers: deer vs. vehicles crashes in illinois

top counties for 2010

1. Cook 562

2. Madison 475

3. Peoria 458

4. Sangamon 411

5. Will 396

6. LaSalle 364

7. Fulton 357

8. Pike 355

9. Kane 325

10. Lake 320

top counties for 2011

1. Cook 554

2. Madison 472

3. Peoria 435

4. Will 422

5. Fulton 417

6. Sangamon 410

7. Kane 395

8. Pike 362

9. Lake 360

10. LaSalle 339

Illinois traffic
involving deer:

2010: 10

2011: 6

Illinois traffic
accidents with
injuries involving deer:

2010: 634

2011: 613

Total number of Illinois deer-vehicle accidents:

2009: 18,849

2010: 17,135

2011: 18,039

About three in every four crashes in 2011 occurred on rural roadways and 71 percent occurred at twilight or nighttime.

Source: Illinois Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources

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Updated: December 13, 2012 6:02AM

The number of deer-related accidents throughout the state is on the rise, and the trend is being seen locally throughout the Fox Valley. In 2011, Illinois residents reported 18,039 deer-related crashes, up 900 from 2010. Though accidents are up, injuries are down, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Experts have described an explosion in deer population around the state. Among the reasons: Deer are living close to subdivisions and in other areas where sportsmen are not allowed to hunt.

In Kendall County, there were 76 car vs. deer crashes in last year, and Plano resident Jeff Guddendorf was the victim of one.

Guddendorf was driving home from Thanksgiving dinner in 2011 when he had an unexpected run-in with a wayward deer.

He was on Route 34, approaching downtown Plano, when he saw what appeared to be a brown lawn waste bag falling from the sky. But instead of a bag of leaves tumbling down, a deer fell instead.

“It’s the last thing I expected to happen,” Guddendorf said of the incident. “I saw it coming down on me from the sky.”

He said he thinks someone ahead of him hit the deer, causing it to go airborne, and fall straight through his windshield.

“It’s just slammed like a ton of bricks and came right through,” he said. “It landed on me and my son.”

The situation was gory, and scary, but both Guddendorf and his 15-year-old son walked away uninjured. The vehicle and the deer wouldn’t have the same fortunate fate.

“We were in a truck; but if we were in a car, who knows what would have happened to us?” he said.

Fatalities fall

Accidents involving deer were responsible for six fatalities statewide in 2011, a decline from 10 in 2010, according to IDOT.

Injuries in these accidents declined from 634 in 2010 to 613 in 2011. IDOT spokesman Josh Kauffman said that they are attributing the decline in fatalities and injuries to increased awareness.

“Obviously that’s a really good sign, that fatalities are 30 percent less,” he said.

The sheer number of accidents, however, is on the rise. For 2011, the most recent data available, Kane County had 395 crashes, up 70 from the 325 crashes in 2010, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. DuPage County had 131. For other area counties, the 2011 numbers are: LaSalle, 339; Will, 422; DeKalb, 121; and McHenry, 251. Cook County had the most crashes at 554.

According to experts at the University of Illinois Extension, most deer-vehicle collisions occur during October, November and December. May and June are another peak, as 1-year-old deer are moving into new areas.

While such deer-involved crashes can occur anytime, most mishaps happen between the hours of 5 and 10 p.m. and 5 and 8 a.m. because deer are “crepuscular” — meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk.

The average animal-related auto claim cost is over $3,300, according to Insurance Navy, an association of insurance brokers in Illinois.

Kauffman said that the state won’t know about the 2012 numbers until it receives all the local accident reports, sometime in 2013.

Defensive driving is the best way to avoid hitting these animals, he said.

“Be particularly cautious at dusk and dawn when deer are the most active,” he said.

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