By Mark Shuller - Email
UPDATE: FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) – With Autumn's arrival and deer hunting season pending, motorists will see increased movement of wildlife throughout the Commonwealth. As a result, motorists are more likely to encounter deer on or near roadways and should be alert to avoid collisions. Lt. David Jude, Spokesperson for KSP, said motorists need to take extra precautions when driving in the fall.
"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," remarked Jude. "Last year, we had 2,989 deer-related collisions in Kentucky with one of those being a fatal collision," added Jude.
Vehicle crashes involving deer on roads kill nearly 100 people nationwide each year and cost about $1.6 million millions of dollars in insurance claims, according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. These crashes spike during October through December due to deer mating season. The average deer/automobile collision results in approximately $3,000 per claim for repairs and injuries.
"It is essential that drivers stay focused and alert when driving in densely populated deer areas," said David McMullen, director of insurance at AAA. "Collisions caused by deer are generally covered under insurance policies. However, if involved in an accident, it is best to contact your insurance company immediately."
AAA says that most damage from deer collisions occurs at the front or the side of the crash. If you are involved in a crash involving a deer, AAA says that you should call local law enforcement first. Make sure that you note the date, the time, the street name and take any pictures you can for documentation.
Jude offered the following tips for drivers:
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.
Citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers to the Kentucky State Police toll-free at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.