Central Kansas saw one fatality last year after a deer-vehicle collision in Stafford County. KDOT reports Barton County had 171 deer-vehicle accidents and three injuries in 2009; Ellsworth County, 132 accidents, one injury; Pawnee, 111 and five; Rice, 110 and three; Rush, 49 and zero; Russell, 108 and one; and Stafford, 89 accidents and three injuries, in addition to the one fatality.
Motorists are reminded to be on the lookout for deer, especially at this time of year. The Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks report that November is historically the month when the highest number of deer-vehicle crashes occur.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of collisions with deer in recent days. On Tuesday, a car hit a deer in the 300 block of North Washington Ave. at 6:43 a.m.; another vehicle hit a deer just west of Albert on K-96 at 8:48 a.m.; and a vehicle hit a deer one-half mile east of NE 60 Ave. from NE 190 Road at 11:05 p.m.
One reason for the increase in deer-vehicle accidents this time of year is that deer mating season — known as the "rut" — occurs in the fall and peaks during mid-November, according to KDWP biologist Lloyd Fox. Deer frequently travel more during this season and are less cautious about hazards such as vehicles. At the same time, deer are on the move because crops are being harvested and trees and shrubs are losing foliage, making the animals less secure.
Not only are deer more active during the fall, the shorter days mean they are on the move during peak travel times, which occur in the low-light of dawn and dusk when they are difficult to see.
According to KDOT, there were 9,628 deer-vehicle collisions in 2009. Sedgwick County had the most crashes with 395, followed by Johnson County with 353 and Butler County with 286.
Motorists should observe the following tips to avoid colliding with deer:
• Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are most active;
• Deer seldom travel alone. If one crosses a road, there may be others following;
• 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;
• Don’t swerve to avoid a collision with a deer. The most serious crashes happen when motorists take evasive action;
• Heed deer crossing sign warnings;
• Use bright lights and slow down when deer are spotted.
According to KHP Capt. Art Wilburn, if you hit a deer, pull onto the shoulder, turn on emergency flashers, and, if you must leave your vehicle, watch for traffic. Don’t remove a deer from the roadway unless you are certain it is dead; an injured deer can hurt you. To report a crash on a Kansas highway using a cell phone, press *47 (*HP) for a highway patrol dispatcher or *582 (*KTA) for assistance on the Kansas Turnpike, or dial 911.
If a crash results in personal injury or property damage of $1,000 or more, the driver is required to immediately report it to the nearest law enforcement agency. Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.
If you are involved in a non-injury crash on an interstate, U.S. highway, or any divided or multi-lane road in Kansas, and aren’t transporting hazardous materials, you are required by law to move your vehicle out of the lane of traffic. The best way to prevent serious injuries and death in a crash is to make sure all occupants are buckled up and children are secured in an appropriate child safety seat.