Deer in the small Illinois town of Button are suicidal, and the problem has become so dire that the highway department has installed a road sign to warn drivers.
How else could the highway department explain 33 car-deer collisions last year? The deer must be suicidal to hurl themselves so often in front of speeding cars, even though they don’t leave notes and don’t seem to have too many troubles.
The tiny rural town is now garnering some intense social media attention thanks to an unusual solution to this problem, the Paxton Record reported.
It goes without saying that the idea that the deer in this rural part of the state are actually suicidal is a bit of a joke. The term “suicidal” is really intended to imply that the deer are dangerous risk-takers, Fox News noted.
After a bit of brainstorming, Button Highway Commissioner Ron Hilligoss came up with a unique solution to this problem. He wasn’t happy with the high number of car-versus-deer collisions last year across Ford County, and thought the unorthodox warning may do the trick and help curb the numbers.
“My nephew sent me a picture of one of these signs out in Colorado about six months ago. He texted it to me, and I thought it was really a good thing because it gets your attention. So we had a Ford County Highway Department meeting and I said, ‘Can you get me these signs?’ “
Just south of a rural intersection, the “Suicidal Deer” road sign has been installed as a test case, the goal being that the eye-catching phrase will remind drivers of the risk. Anyone who has driven along a rural road knows all too well that crossing deer pose a constant and serious threat. The animals seem to have no fear of cars, and no qualms about leaping headlong into oncoming traffic.
About six weeks ago, the first “Suicidal Deer” road sign was installed. The department actually purchased four of the road signs for $42 apiece from a Chicago company. Hilligoss wants to see how the first “Suicidal Deer” sign affects car-deer collision numbers before he puts up the other three.
He also wants to see how long the road sign lasts.
“I’m just waiting to see who puts bullet holes in it or steals it.”
The roads sign acknowledges the fact that drivers don’t really pay too much attention. If something is familiar and commonplace — like your run-of-the-mill deer crossing sign — people will tend to gloss it over. But on rural roads, drivers need to watch out for the daredevil animals.
And if they see something they haven’t seen before — like a warning to watch for suicidal deer — they may actually stop to notice what’s going on around them. In other words, they may actually start watching out for the creatures crossing the road.
“A lot of people see it. Deer crossing signs, if you ask someone where they are, they couldn’t tell you, but you put up ‘suicidal deer’ or something comical for just a few minutes, you may stop and think, ‘Maybe there some deer running around here. Maybe I’ll be a little more cautious. It’s just nice to see something that constantly reminds you that there are deer running out there.”
So far, the road sign seems to be working. Thirteen days into 2016 and not one car-deer collision has been reported. Hilligloss is just happy drivers are paying attention.
“Whether it’s a sign, or whatever it may be, if people are more cautious because of it and get a little humor over it, that’s great for everybody,” he said.
[Photo by JamesChen/Shutterstock]