Department of Highways, District 10
Motorists advised to look out for deer
JACKSON, Ky. — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is reminding motorists that deer become a greater roadway hazard this time of year as mating season arrives. Each year, the rut, which lasts from October through December, accounts for a spike in deer-related crashes in the commonwealth.
There were more than 3,000 deer-related crashes reported in Kentucky last year, with one fatality and 172 injuries. This year, 1,520 deer-related crashes have been reported thus far, resulting in three deaths and 94 injuries. That number is sure to rise as deer begin their seasonal movements. Nationally, between 100 and 150 people die each year in motor vehicle accidents involving deer.
“Many times these accidents are unavoidable, but motorists can reduce the risk by taking extra time to drive carefully and staying alert, especially during dawn and dusk when visibility is lower and when deer tend to be on the move,” said Mark A. Westfall, chief engineer for District 10 of the Department of Highways, based in Jackson.
Highway officials attribute the increase of deer-related crashes to multiple factors:
· Mating season puts deer on the move.
· Farmers are harvesting crops, reducing food supply and potential hiding places.
· There is an increase in the number of hunters and hikers in the woods.
· Deer tend to move at daylight and dusk when visibility is at its poorest for motorists.
· Dry conditions this year have led deer to travel more in search of water to drink.
While deer tend to cross highways along regular trails most of the year, they can show up in towns, subdivisions and other unexpected places during the fall rut. The Insurance Information Institute offers several defensive driving tips to help avoid striking a deer:
· Be attentive from sunset to midnight and around sunrise.
· Watch out at deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population, and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
· Use high beam headlights to better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
· Slow down and blow the horn with one long blast to drive deer away.
· Brake firmly if a deer is in the road, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
· Always wear a seat belt. Most people killed in deer-related crashes were not buckled up.
Among the roads in the 10-county District 10 area where a high rate of deer-related collisions have been noted are the Mountain Parkway (Powell, Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin), Hal Rogers Parkway (Perry), KY 80 (Perry), KY 15 (Wolfe, Breathitt and Perry), US 460 (Menifee, Morgan and Magoffin), KY 7 (Morgan), KY 52 (Estill, Lee), KY 11 (Lee, Owsley), KY 205 (Breathitt, Wolfe and Morgan), KY 1274 (Menifee), KY 28 (Owsley) and KY 89 (Estill).
In general, drivers should be on the lookout for deer in areas where prior crashes have occurred, where “Deer Crossing” signs have been erected, or on high-speed roadways.