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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
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Dry Fall Season Brings Increased Deer Hazard on Roadways

Date of News Release: 09/26/2007

(FRANKFORT, KY) - Motorists on Kentucky roadways face special hazards from October through December as mating season brings a dramatic increase in the movement of deer throughout the state. Lack of rainfall is adding to the danger this year as deer are forced to seek new sources of water. These two factors are increasing the potential for car-deer collisions say Kentucky State Police officials and they're advising motorists to take extra precautions during this time period.

"Last year there were 2,928 deer-related collisions on Kentucky's public roads resulting in one fatality and 180 people injured," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Jack Adams. "Almost 50 percent of those collisions occurred during the October through December period. As of Aug. 31, there have been 1,370 deer strikes on the state's public roads in 2007 resulting in one fatality and 66 people injured."

"I urge all motorists to be extremely alert for this hazard on rural roads as well as in suburban neighborhoods," he adds. "People tend to underestimate the severity of collisions with deer. The amount of damage even a small deer can do to a moving vehicle is shocking. If the vehicle is a motorcycle, the odds are even higher that both the operator and deer will be seriously injured or killed."

The Kentucky State Police suggests that motorists follow these defensive driving tips to help avoid hitting a deer:

  • 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.
  • 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 of your vehicle. It is generally safer to hit the deer than leave your lane, risking injury to passengers and 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.
  • If the deer stays on the road, stop, put on your hazard lights and wait for it to leave the roadway. Do not try to go around the deer while it is on the road.
  • Always wear your safety belt. Historically, most people injured or killed in deer/auto collisions were not properly restrained.

"When it comes to deer, whether you're traveling on rural roads or urban highways, anything is possible," notes Adams. "The best advice is to stay alert and slow down."

Click here for more information on deer hazards, including maps of deer collisions by county.

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