A tragic accident that began with a minivan hitting a deer on the Indiana tollway early last month ended up taking the lives of seven people and injuring three more. The minivan struck the deer, slowed down or stopped, and was hit by a semi. While the collision with the deer did not actually cause the fatalities and injuries, it triggered the rest of the event.
October, November, and December are the worst months of the year for deer accidents because the deer are breeding. Kentucky State Police state that 47 percent of all car accidents involving deer occur in these three months. The peak times of day are between 5:00 and 8:00, both in the morning and evening. A 21-year-old was driving his Chevy pickup in Christian County in Kentucky in November of this year when a deer jumped through the windshield, killing him and injuring his 14-year-old brother. The officers that responded to the accident said it occurred around 6:00 p.m.
Generally more deer are found near wooded areas, but they can appear anywhere, even in the suburbs and industrial areas. Western Kentucky counties that normally have the highest number of deer collisions include Hopkins, Henderson, Daviess and Muhlenberg. While deer populations are higher in more rural areas, which some may think would increase the number of accidents, the number of vehicles traveling in these areas are fewer, so there are not as many cars for the deer to hit. More heavily-traveled roads may be in areas with smaller numbers of deer, but the increased number of vehicles causes the collision rate to increase.
Deer accidents are frequently unavoidable, but some precautions can be taken. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. Studies have shown that posting these signs has actually decreased the number of deer-vehicle accidents. Do not become distracted by cell phones, food, radios, or other items in the vehicle; focus all your attention on the road. Use high-beam headlights when traveling in the dark. If you see one deer cross the road, slow down and allow any other deer traveling with it to cross before you proceed. Deer are usually not alone. Always wear your seatbelt. According to Kentucky State Police, most people injured or killed in collisions with deer were not properly restrained. If you hit a deer and it remains in the road, do not approach it or attempt to help it. A scared, injured deer could injure you in its attempt to get up and get away from the vehicle.
If a deer jumps in front of your vehicle and you are unable to stop in time, do not attempt to avoid the deer by swerving. A swerving vehicle may confuse a deer that otherwise might have been able to jump out of the way. Also, swerving may cause you to over-correct your steering and cause a worse accident than actually hitting the deer. On November 14, April LaRoche of Owensboro, Kentucky was driving her Ford Explorer when she encountered a deer on the road. She swerved to avoid it, but over-corrected, causing the vehicle to roll over several times before stopping. Both she and her passenger were injured.
While Drew and Mike Phillips do not wish a deer-vehicle collision on anyone, they do profit from it. Their Ashland, Kentucky auto body repair shop makes about 20 percent of its revenue from repairing damage caused by deer. They estimate the average cost of the body work is about $1,500 per accident. Nationwide, the cost of deer accidents is about $4.6 billion each year, including auto repairs and injury costs. About 150 people are killed in this type of accident each year in the U.S. Kentucky averages over 3,000 deer collisions per year, resulting in over 150 injuries and about three fatalities annually. The Kentucky car accident attorneys at Miller & Falkner remind you to please drive carefully so you do not become part of these statistics.
Oh, deer! It's peak season for costly accidents; Daily Independent; Kenneth Hart; November 6, 2011
Kentucky Drivers Entering Peak Deer Collision Season; Kentucky Ag Connection; October 14, 2011
Owensboro Resident Injured in Christian County Deer Accident; surfky.com; Stu Recke; November 14, 2011
Safety tips released after KY driver dies hitting a deer; 14 News; Emily Mieure; November 7, 2011