Kentucky officials warn motorists to be on the lookout for roving deer
Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:11 pm
Five people went to the hospital this past weekend following a crash on Kentucky 94 in Graves County — and a police report indicated the crash occurred when one of the drivers attempted to avoid a deer crossing the highway.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 office is reminding motorists to be aware of the deer mating season, which accounts for an annual spike in deer-related crashes, beginning in October.
In 2007, there were 2,797 reported traffic crashes involving deer on Kentucky highways, resulting in 76 injuries and three fatalities. So far in 2008, there have been 1,430 police-reported traffic crashes involving deer, resulting in one fatality and 56 injuries.
Many deer vs. vehicle accidents are never reported to police.
“Nationally, about 150 people are killed each year in motor vehicle accidents involving deer,” said Jim LeFevre, chief engineer in the Paducah highway office. “While these collisions happen year-round, about half are reported during October, November and December — during the deer mating season.”
Highway officials attribute the increase of deer-related crashes to several factors:
• Mating season puts deer on the move;
• Farmers are harvesting crops, reducing food supply and potential hiding places;
• There’s an increase in hunters and hikers in the woods; and
• Deer tend to move at daylight and dusk when visibility is at its poorest for motorists.
LeFevre noted that 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. In some counties, state highway employees remove up to 50 deer carcasses a week from mid-October until the deer mating season trails off around the first of the year.
“We want to remind everyone to drive carefully,” LeFevre said. “Take some extra time to drive carefully and be on the lookout for deer, especially during dawn and dusk when visibility is lower and deer are moving.”
The average deer collision causes about $2,000 worth of damage per vehicle. According to an insurance industry group, drivers are expected to report about 1.8 million collisions with deer nationwide, resulting in 150 fatalities and about $1.1 billion in damage to vehicles.
Kentucky Department of Highways District One is responsible for about 2,800 miles of state highways in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Liv-ingston, Lyon, McCracken, Mar-shall and Trigg counties.