Lush vegetation could lead to more deer-vehicle strikes-- Keep yourself protected

Published: Oct. 13, 2016 at 11:40 AM CDT
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A rainy summer season could lead to more deer-vehicle crashes across the state, and officials are warning drivers to be on the lookout.

“We have just experienced a summer rainfall pattern that has produced excellent growth of deer habitat,” said Lloyd Fox, biologist, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “Unlike the years of drought, we should expect more fawns this fall.”

Deer-vehicle crashes peak as deer in Kansas are heading into mating season, it usually in mid-November. Not only are the deer mating, they are also on the move to find new food sources and shelter as we head into the winter.

“Young animals of all species are prone to making mistakes,” Fox said. “That includes mistakes crossing roads. Be extra careful.”

The Kansas Department of Transportation says in 2015, 9,982 deer-related crashed were reported. That figure counts for 16 percent of the 60,340 total crashes reported. The deer-related accidents include instances where a deer and vehicle collided or the presence of a deer was a contributing circumstance.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have a deer enter the highway in front of your car, it is best to hit the animal and not swerve to avoid it,” said Lt. Adam Winters with the Kansas Highway Patrol. “Often we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road or veering into incoming traffic.”

Last year Sedgwick County had the most deer-vehicle crashed with 374, Butler County followed with 356. Shawnee County saw 280 crashes, while Riley County had 182, Lyon County had 214, Jackson County saw 99 and Jefferson County had 135.

The number of crashes last year is the highest since 2011 when 10,159 crashes were reported.

Deer related crashes caused 527 injures to people on Kansas roadways in 2015, they also resulted in eight deaths. The highest number of fatal deer-vehicle related crashes was nine in 2013.

There are ways to keep you and your family safe.

Tips to avoid deer collisions include:

• Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are particularly active.

• Watch for more than one deer, as they seldom travel alone.

• Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces such as parks or golf courses and near water sources such as streams or ponds.

• Deer crossing signs show where high levels of deer/vehicle crashes have occurred in the past.

• Use your bright lights to help you detect deer as far ahead as possible.

• Always wear a seat belt and use appropriate child safety seats. Even if you are waiting in your car, it is best to wear your seat belt, and have your children in car seats.

If you do hit a deer, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

• Slow down, pull onto the shoulder and turn on the emergency flashers.

• Don’t worry about the animal. Law enforcement will arrange to have the animal removed from the road when they arrive. Tell the dispatcher if the deer is still in the road when you’re calling for help.

• If possible, remain buckled up in your vehicle, protecting yourself in the event there is a secondary crash involving another vehicle.

• If you must be outside your vehicle, stand as far off the road as possible; make sure hazard lights are activated; don't stand between your vehicle and another vehicle; and make sure children are kept properly restrained in your vehicle.

If you hit a deer you will need to make sure you report it. You can do so on any Kansas highway by calling *47 or *582 if you are on the Kansas Turnpike. Crashes can also be reported by calling 911.