“While it seems to be running a few weeks later than normal this year, our highway crews are seeing an increase in the number of deer killed along our highways. Collisions between deer and vehicles take a decided upturn during October, November, and December,” said KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre. “About half of our deer-vehicle collisions are reported during the last 3 months of the year when deer are most active.”
Cooler evenings and shorter days kick in the fall mating season, putting deer on the move at times when they are least visible. An analysis of crash reports indicates most auto collisions with deer are just before sunrise or just after sunset.
"The onset of cooler weather is a reminder for everyone to stay attentive while driving,” LeFevre said. “This is especially important during the twilight hours when deer and other wildlife tend to move while visibility can be an issue. Deer often travel in herds, so drivers should be especially on alert because more could be close behind when they spot a deer crossing the road.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 150 people are killed across the nation each year in motor vehicle accidents involving deer.
Kentucky crash numbers for 2012 indicate there have already been 1,509 deer-related crashes with75 reported injuries and no deer-related fatalities as of October 15th. The numbers for 2011 show 2,972 crashes with three fatalities and 148 injuries attributed to deer. Police ask motorists to report all collisions with deer to help highway safety officials maintain accurate records.
Multiple factors combine to contribute to deer-related crashes this time of year:
· Mating season puts deer on the move.
· Crop harvest reduces food supply and hiding places.
· More farmers, hunters, and hikers are in the countryside coming into contact with deer and causing them to move about.
· Deer tend to move at dawn and dusk when visibility is low.
Motorists should consider these driving tips to help improve their personal safety:
· Always wear a seatbelt.
· Drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside (especially at dusk).
· Slow down immediately when you spot a deer. Proceed slowly until you are past the point where deer have crossed.
· Don’t swerve to avoid a deer. Stay in your lane. Swerving can result in a more serious crash with oncoming traffic.
· In the event of a crash, keep both hands on the wheel and brake down steadily.
· Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.
While deer tend to travel along fairly predictable trails most of the year, during the fall mating season they can show up in commercial and residential areas. In some counties, state highway crews remove up to 50 deer carcasses a week from mid-October until the mating season trails off around year’s end.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 headquarters is responsible for approximately 2,800 miles of state highways in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, Marshall and Trigg counties.