FRANKFORT — The Kentucky State Police is urging all motorists to be aware of the increased dangers posed by deer wandering onto roadways during November and December.
“Two factors combine to boost the chances that motorists may encounter these animals during this time of the year: mating season and hunting season” says KSP Sgt. Michael Webb. “This results in increased movement that presents hazards to deer, vehicles and drivers.”
Nationally, about 1.6 million vehicle-deer collisions occur each year, resulting in about 150 deaths and $3.6 billion in damage. The national average cost-per-claim is $4,135.
“A collision with a deer can cause extensive vehicle damage such as a crushed front end or punctured radiator to severe hood, windshield and roof damage,” says Webb. “The human costs can be very serious as well.”
In 2014, Kentucky recorded 3,092 vehicle-deer collisions, an increase of 128 crashes compared to 2013 statistics. Three people were killed and 115 injured.
During the past five years, Boone County led the state in deer collisions with an average of 148 per year. Hopkins County posted 122 followed by Jefferson County with 103, Campbell County with 97 and Hardin County with 96.
According to State Farm Insurance Company, Kentucky is ranked 14th in the country for the most deer collisions. The odds that drivers in the state will hit a deer are one in 113.
To avoid becoming a statistic, KSP offers the following defensive driving tips for motorists to reduce their chances of hitting a deer:
• Be extra cautious in the early morning and evening hours. Deer are most active during these low-light periods when motorists 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.