FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued its annual “Antler Alert” to remind drivers to use extra caution on state roads as deer begin to move for fall mating season.
Shorter days and cooler nights bring a noticeable increase in deer-vehicle collisions starting in October and continuing through the end of the year. Autumn farming harvests also contribute to putting deer on the move, making them more likely to come into the path of passing vehicles.
According to Transportation Cabinet District 1 Chief Engineer Kyle Poat, drivers should be on the lookout during the next three months.
“This isn’t just about vehicle damage,” he said. “Statewide, collisions involving deer contribute to about three fatalities each year with deer listed as a contributing factor in more than 200 traffic fatalities nationwide and thousands of crashes that cause injuries to humans.”
He added, “October, November and December account for about half of the deer-car collisions each year.”
Transportation officials say in 2018, there were 3,086 deer-vehicle collisions reported across Kentucky, a slight drop from the more than 3,200 reported to police agencies in 2017. Deer crash numbers stayed about the same in 2019 at 3,071. However, that number may be only a fraction of the actual crashes involving deer since many are not reported to police.
For the 12th consecutive year, West Virginia topped the deer collision list for 2019. While chances of hitting a deer while driving decreased slightly in recent years, the cost of claims increased by $162 to $4,341, according to figures supplied by State Farm Insurance.
Odds of being involved in a deer collision in Kentucky are 1 in 107, but that likelihood doubles during deer season, from October into December. KYTC offers several driving tips to help improve safety:
--Slow down immediately when you spot a deer crossing the roadway ahead, as deer tend to travel in groups.
--Don’t swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can result in a more serious crash with an oncoming vehicle or roadside object.
--In the event of a crash, keep both hands on the wheel and apply brakes steadily until stopped.
--Always wear a safety belt.
--Keep headlights on bright unless other vehicles are approaching.
--Avoid use of your cell phone while driving.
--Drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at dawn and dusk when deer are most active.
Drivers are asked to report all deer-auto collisions to police. Traffic engineers use crash data to aid in the placement of deer crossing warning signs and other safety measures.
A recent ranking indicated Kentucky has the 13th highest deer population in the United States.