FRANKFORT, KY -Deer hunting season brings increased movement of wildlife throughout the state. As a result, motorists are more likely to encounter deer on or near roadways and should be alert to avoid collisions.
Vehicle crashes involving deer on roads kill nearly 100 people nationwide each year and cost millions of dollars in insurance claims, according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. The average deer/automobile collision results in approximately $2,000 per claim for repairs and injuries.
While the percentage of deer collisions resulting in a fatality is relatively low in Kentucky as compared to the nation, it is extremely important to recognize this ever-present risk, especially at this time of year when nearly 50 percent of all collisions with deer occur.
Defensive driving tips to help avoid hitting a deer include:
Be extra cautious in the early morning and evening hours. Deer are most active during these low-light periods when humans see worst and reaction time is slow.
Stay alert when driving through a known deer-crossing zone. If you see one deer, look for more. They often travel in herds.
Drive at a moderate speed, especially on roads bordering woodlands, parklands, golf courses and streams. However, remember that many deer crashes occur on busy highways near cities.
Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will reflect in the eyes of deer on or near the roadway, providing increased driver reaction time.
Upon seeing a deer, immediately slow down. Do not swerve---this could confuse the deer about where to run. It could also cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car. It is generally safer to hit the deer rather than running off the road or risking injury to other motorists.
Deer are often unpredictable, especially when faced with blinding headlights, loud horns and fast-moving vehicles. Don’t expect them to stay where they are. They can dart in front of you at the last moment, stop in the middle of the road, cross quickly and return to the road or even move toward an approaching vehicle.
Deer whistles on cars provide little help and blowing the car horn doesn’t always solve the problem. Blowing the horn may cause them to move, but not necessarily in the direction you want.
Always wear your safety belt. Historically, most people injured or killed in deer/auto collisions were not properly restrained.
“When it comes to deer, whether you’re traveling on rural roads or urban highways, anything is possible,” notes KSP Commissioner Mark Miller. “The best advice is to stay alert and slow down.”
For more information on deer hazards, including maps of deer collisions by county, visit the Kentucky State Police website at www.kentuckystatepolice.org and click on KY Deer Collisions located in the bottom right corner of the home page.