Attention motorists: watch out for deer while driving Kentucky highways this fall.

Deer movement peaks in late October through early December, during the rut, the whitetail’s annual mating season.

Motorists should be on the lookout for deer crossing roads, especially at dusk and dawn, when deer are feeding and bucks are beginning to follow or chase does.

“Historically, November is the month with the highest number of deer-vehicle collisions in Kentucky,” said Tina Brunjes, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Drivers should be alert, particularly in areas where brush or trees are close to roadways and when driving on stretches of interstate highways which have forested medians.”

The presence of yellow deer crossing signs should also be a tipoff to motorists that they are traveling a stretch of road where deer may be encountered. “Our traffic engineers place the signs as they see a need, usually in areas with high rates of deer-vehicle crashes,” said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Over the past eight years, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) have documented an average of 2,985 deer/vehicle collisions annually. About 6 percent of these accidents resulted in human injuries. In 2011, there were three human fatalities in collisions between deer and vehicles, according to KSP statistics. On average about 400 deer/vehicle accidents occur in October, about 800 in November and about 300 in December.

Motorists who encounter deer should slow down until the deer moves. Never attempt to drive around a deer standing in the road. If the deer is facing away from the traffic flow, flash your head lights from low beam to high beam, and be prepared to stop. Deer usually travel in groups, so expect to see more than one deer crossing the road in single file.

Drive defensively when traveling at night through creek bottoms and other heavily-wooded areas. Watch for deer standing at the side of the road. Scan the roadway ahead carefully, and drive with your head lights on high beam when possible.

Logo courtesy Kentucky Fish and Wildlife

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