The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Kentucky State Police are teaming up to remind motorists that vehicle-deer collisions take a quick upturn as the fall crop harvest and mating season combine to put deer on the move.
"Our highway crews normally notice an increase in the number of deer killed along our highways starting the first few weeks of October and continuing through December," said KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre. "About half of all collisions with deer 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.
Trooper Stu Recke with Kentucky State Police Post 2 at Madisonville reports most auto collisions with deer occur just before sunrise or just after sunset.
"Motorists need to take extra precautions when driving in the fall especially in the early morning hours and at dusk," Recke said. This is the time of year when a majority of collisions with deer occur. If you spot a deer crossing the highway slow down because others may also be crossing in near the same spot. Stay alert, adjust your speed, and always buckle up."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 150 people are killed across the nation each year in motor vehicle accidents involving deer, making deer responsible for more human deaths that almost all other animals combined.
Numbers for 2011 indicate there have already been 2 fatalities attributed to deer in Kentucky as of Oct. 1. In 2010 there were 3,106 total collisions with deer reported in Kentucky, resulting in four fatalities and 166 injuries. That compares with 2009 when 3,031 total collisions with deer were reported in Kentucky, resulting in one fatality and 176 injury crashes. 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 the first of the year.