This week’s question: State officials are warning motorists to watch out for deer crossing the road, noting that 40 percent of deer-vehicle crashes happen between October and December. Which Sauk Valley roadways are you particularly careful about when it comes to deer?
Peter Shaw, Shaw Media trustee, corporate strategy coordinator
What do you call a blind deer? I have no eye-deer. … Oh deer, this is embarrassing, but I am quite fawn’d of that one. Enough, the buck stops here. For real doe, let’s discuss the game plan.
Like any other safety issue related to vehicles, alertness must be priority No. 1. However, just being alert won’t always help. (For some reason, these deer won’t follow the same traffic laws we do.)
Officials state that the best and safest course of action is to not veer or swerve to avoid the deer, but to continue driving straight ahead and apply the brakes as needed.
Even if you drive country roads every day, try to visualize how you would react if a deer jumps out at your vehicle. It isn’t something we can practice, but alertness and the mental exercise could minimize the impact of a deer-related incident.
Be careful out there; the deer population is staggering.
Kathleen Schultz, SVM news editor
Yes, they're pretty, and sweet-looking, with those big mushy eyes and tentative little polka-dotted babies.
But face it: Deer are just giant cloven-hoofed gophers – they're everywhere, all the time, but you usually can't see them until their tiny brains go berserk and they make a suicide sprint straight into the path of your speeding metal leviathan of doom.
When they're also awash in a seasonal hormone stew, fuggetaboutit – no roadway is safe.
Those warning signs with the silhouette of a leaping buck? Useless. I repeat, deer are everywhere. Don't believe me? Google "deer in school" and see how many videos pop up.
You cannot avoid them, and you cannot save them – don't event try. Unless you're driving a Peterbilt, the best you can do when you see one rocketing your way is to try to get it to glance off your vehicle.
Whatever you do, says the IDNR, don't veer for deer.
Jim Dunn, SVM editorial page editor
After my wife hit a deer on state Route 92 one evening in February, we very quickly learned to be wary of the highway between Walnut and Ohio.
Hitting a deer really throws a scare into you, and I’m not talking about Halloween scares. The crash totaled our older van, meaning that we had to hunt around for a replacement.
And every time we’ve ventured out at night since then, there’s always been that anxiety that another deer will dart out of a darkened ditch and into our lane.
Other roads I watch out for include state Route 2, particularly the hill coming out of Dixon’s west side, headed toward Sterling. Over the years, I’ve seen so many deer carcasses on that stretch, I’ve lost count.
I agree with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s advice not to swerve when you see a deer in front of you. If you veer one way, you could cause a head-on crash. If you veer the other way, you could hit a tree or other immovable obstacle.
It’s better just to apply the brakes and hope for the best.