Whitesburg KY

State’s deer-vehicle collisions jump in fall

With Kentucky ranked 15th in the nation for deer vehicle collisions, drivers across the commonwealth have a 1 in 100 chance of hitting a deer, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Drivers need to be even more alert this time of year as deer become more active.

“The number of deer killed along area highways in September is linked to the increase in deer movement,” according to Kyle Poat, chief engineer for the Transportation Cabinet’s District 1 in far western Kentucky.

“That accelerates going into October, November and December and shows up in the increased number of deer-related crashes.”

According to the Cabinet, there were 3,201 deer vehicle collisions in Kentucky in 2017, slightly more than the 3,100 reported in 2016.

Boone in northern Kentucky led all counties in the commonwealth with 180 collisions. Campbell County had 117, and Christian and Kenton counties each had 103.

Magoffin and Owsley counties joined Fulton as the only ones to report no deer-vehicle collisions. Letcher County averages five deer-vehicle collisions each year.

The Transportation Cabinet, along with area law enforcement agencies, remind motorists to be alert for deer on the move as the fall harvest and mating season begin. The increase in deer-vehicle crashes usually starts in early to mid-October when farmers ramp up grain harvesting.

The harvest reduces both the availability of food and the concealed habitat for the deer. In addition, increased activity during deer mating season causes the animals to stray from their normal travel patterns.

“When it cools off it seems to pick up, especially on cool mornings or evenings,” said David Maddox, chief deputy with the Marshall County Sheriff ’s Department.

According to State Farm Insurance, the national average cost per deer collision claim in 2017 was $4,179, up from $3,995 reported in 2016.

Sheriff ’s department vehicles are not immune, according to Maddox.

“We have them with our own vehicles. We usually have at least one a year,” he said. “Of course, you know we have vehicles on the road 24-7. It’s been my experience that when we have one here, the damage to the vehicle is pretty bad.”

According to Maddox, drivers need to remember to be especially alert.

“That’s year-round (advice), but especially now,” he said. “As soon as we start having these cool mornings it will go up.”

Other tips from the Transportation Cabinet include keeping headlights on bright, unless other vehicles are approaching, and slowing immediately when spotting a deer crossing the roadway, as deer tend to travel in groups.

And, no matter what time of year, Maddox has another reminder.

“Wear your seat belts,” he said. “Because unfortunately sometimes people lose control after a deer strike, and the seat belt can save your life.”

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