“OH, DEER! IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!”
FRANKFORT, KY (October 30, 2006) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is joining the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth urging motorists to focus on defensive driving skills during the forthcoming deer mating season. Collisions with deer can result in very serious consequences.
“We are obviously concerned with the safety of motorists. Deer-related crashes can result in serious injuries or death,” said Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert. “We are also very much aware of the financial burdens that collisions with deer inevitably bring. For those reasons we are very serious about our responsibility to get the message out there and pound it home: Motorists need to be a lot more cautious this time of year.”
Despite the popular misconception that hunters are flushing the deer out into the roadways in greater numbers this time of year, the most influential stimulus is the decrease in daylight which triggers the mating urge in deer.
“Simply stated, this is the time of year that deer breed,” said David Yancy, Senior Wildlife Biologist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “All of the activity associated with the whitetail mating season, which we refer to as the ‘rut’, causes deer to cross our roads more frequently. In general, the entire deer population is very unsettled this time of year, and they are on the move everywhere.” Yancy also pointed out that without the effects of hunting, there would be even more deer crossing the roads.
The typical whitetail deer mating season ranges from late October to late January. Fish and Wildlife statistics clearly show that the peak mating season is from mid to late November. That time is also a peak time for deer/auto collisions. In fact, statistics show that the number of deer/auto collisions in November is nearly twice as many as those in October.
“Vigilance should be the watchword,” said Commissioner Tim Hazlette of the KYTC Department of Transportation Safety. “Too many of us have learned the hard way that it only takes a deer a second or two to dart out of the woods and into your path, leaving you almost no time to react. My advice is to be alert and be buckled up. Most serious injuries resulting from collisions with deer have been suffered by those who were not wearing their safety belts.”
While even the most cautious drivers do not have any guarantees that they will be able to avoid a collision with a deer, the Department of Transportation Safety offers the following suggestions:
-Always wear your seatbelt.
-Drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside.
-If you spot a deer on the edge of the road, blow your horn. Use a long steady blast to get the deer’s attention.
-If a deer freezes in your headlights, flick the beams on and off to break the deer’s concentration. That may cause the deer to move.
-Slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until you are past the point where the deer have crossed.
-Don’t swerve. Stay in your lane. Most fatalities stemming from deer-related accidents involve drivers swerving, in an effort to miss the deer, and hitting a stationary object.
-If the worst happens, keep both hands on the wheel and brake down steadily.
-Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.
Nationally, about 500,000 deer collisions occur on U.S. roadways each year, causing an average of $2,000 in damage per vehicle.