MADISONVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is joining area law enforcement agencies to remind motorists that the number of deer-vehicle collisions increase substantially during the last 3 months of the year as the fall crop harvest and mating season combine to put deer on the move.
“Our highway crews are seeing an upturn in the number of deer killed along our highways. Deer-vehicle collisions always increase during the last 3 months of the year, so we’re reminding folks to use extra caution when they are on the road,” said KYTC District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn. “Fully half of our deer-related crashes show up in October, November, and December when deer go on the move.”
Cooler evenings and shorter days kick in during the fall mating season, making deer more active at times when they are least visible. An analysis of police crash reports indicates most auto collisions with deer are just before sunrise or just after sunset.
"The arrival of cool weather serves as a reminder to stay attentive when you’re behind the wheel,” McClearn said. “This is even more urgent during twilight hours when visibility is limited and deer are more likely to move about.”
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 with 75 reported injuries and no deer-related fatalities as of October 15th. The numbers for 2011 show 2,972 crashes with 3 fatalities and 148 injuries attributed to deer. In 2010 there were 3,106 total collisions with deer reported in Kentucky, resulting in four fatalities and 166 injuries. 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 2 headquarters in Madisonville is responsible for approximately 3,300 miles of state highways in Hancock, Ohio, Muhlenberg, Christian, Hopkins, McLean, Daviess, Henderson, Union, Webster and Caldwell counties.