Drivers Urged to Use Caution During Peak Deer Crossing Months
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 increase in the number of deer killed along our highways, indicating deer are starting to move. Deer-vehicle collisions always go up during October, November, and December,” said KYTC District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn. “About half of all deer-related collisions are reported during the last quarter of the year when deer are on the move.”
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.
"Cooler weather and shorter days serve as a reminder that we all need to stay attentive when we’re behind the wheel,” McClearn said. “This is especially the case during twilight hours when deer and other wildlife tend to move when visibility is poor.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 150 people are killed nationwide each year in motor vehicle accidents involving deer.
In 2012, police agencies in Kentucky reported 2,766 deer-related crashes, causing 106 injuries with no reported driver fatalities. That showed a drop from 2011 when 2,972 crashes with 148 injuries and 3 fatalities were attributed to deer.
McClearn asked motorists to report all collisions to police.
“We believe a lot of deer-vehicle collisions go unreported according to the number of deer observed along our highways,” McClearn said. “We urge all motorists to report all such collisions to police. Data pulled directly from police crash reports is used to direct our efforts to improve highway safety.”
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 starting in October and continuing 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.
A county by county report on deer-related crashes is attached. Eight western Kentucky counties are among the state’s top 25: