BATAVIA, IL — “Dark 30” is approaching with the end of daylight saving time. Sunset in Batavia is at 4:41 p.m. Sunday.
Sunrise Monday is at 6:33 a.m.
Both sunrise and sunset are busy times for deer. It’s when they go to their favorite watering holes, creating hazards on roads they share with people commuting to and from work.
November is even more precarious. It’s the season of “rut” for deer. In other words, it’s mating season and a fairly frantic time for deer, which are so fixed on continuing their species that they may run right into your car, SUV or truck. The season is called “the rut” because it’s the time of year male deer thrust their antlers together until one of them gives up and dies.
Tom Langen, a professor of biology at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, wrote for The Conversation that collisions with deer are about eight times more frequent at dusk or dawn — when the deer are most active and motorists’ ability to spot them is poorest — than during daylight hours. In fact, only about a fifth of deer-vehicle collisions occur during daylight hours.
Motorists should also be aware during full moons — the next one is the full beaver moon on Nov. 19 — at the time of night when the moon is brightest. During those hours, deer move farther away from their nesting spots and are more likely to dart into traffic on the highway.
It’s not just male deer that make the highways dangerous in the fall. Elk and moose are mating as well.
Illinois ranks 34 in automobile-animal collisions, according to a State Farm insurance survey released earlier this fall.
Here are some tips to avoid hitting a deer:
- Slow down, particularly at dusk and dawn.
- If you see one deer, be prepared for more deer to cross the road.
- Pay attention to deer crossing signs.
- Always buckle up — every trip, every time.
- Use your high beams to see farther, except when there is oncoming traffic.
- Don’t veer for deer. Brake if you can, but avoid swerving, which can result in a more severe crash.
- Remain focused on the road. Scan for potential dangers, including animals.
- Avoid distractions. Devices or eating might cause you to miss seeing an animal.
- Do not rely on products such as deer whistles. They are not proven effective.
- If riding a motorcycle, always wear protective gear. Keep focused on the road ahead.
About 200 people die and 29,000 more are seriously injured every year in deer-automobile collisions, according to published research. Property damage exceeds $1 billion annually, with claims averaging around $2,600 per accident.