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Vehicles and deer continue to collide
new deh deer rut pic
Deer are shown crossing a rural Kansas Highway. - photo by PHOTO COURTESY KANSAS HIGHWAY PATROL

About one-fourth of all vehicular collisions in Barton County involve deer, Barton County Undersheriff Steve Billinger notes. Although fall is deer mating season and the peak time for deer-vehicle crashes, deer can be spotted near roadways any time of year, as evidenced by recent collisions.

Barton County had a total of 621 vehicular crashes in the year 2021, which is the most recent year for which statistics are available, and 163 of the crashes involved deer.

“The 2022 stats haven’t been released yet,” Billinger said, “but I would say it’s an average number similar to 2021.” Year-to-year car-deer collisions are fairly consistent.

Meanwhile, in late March, the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office reported four car vs. deer crashes in four days, with two in a single day. That brought PCSO’s March total up to nine, up from seven in March 2022.

“This year’s numbers are definitely up,” noted PCSO Undersheriff Larry Atteberry.

Tips for drivers

The important question is, “how can you avoid deer crashes?” The simple answer is you can’t. All that drivers can do is control their own actions by taking preventative measures to keep themselves safe, Billinger said. Billinger gave the following tips:

• Slow your speed at prime deer movement travel periods, especially in known problem areas. Deer tend to be particularly active between 6 and 9 p.m., so these are the highest-risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.

• Look and scan 20-30 seconds down the roadway.

• Use high-beam headlights whenever possible.

• Do not swerve your vehicle to avoid a collision; maintain control to prevent an even more hazardous accident such as a rollover. 

• Wear seat belts

Many deer accidents can be avoidable by following the tips above, but in some cases, the deer enters the roadway so fast that little can be done to avoid the crash. If that happens, concentrate your driving efforts to reduce the severity of the crash if possible.

In the event of a collision with a deer, pull off the roadway to a safe parking position, turn on emergency flashers and call 911  to report the crash. For your passenger’s protection and your own protection stay in your vehicle, this will provide protection from other motorists. 

State law requires all crashes resulting in over $1,000 to be immediately reported to law enforcement, Billinger said. Report the location and advise if medical care is needed. Contact your insurance company and provide the case number assigned by the law enforcement agency.