With deer-breeding season in full swing, the Kansas Highway Patrol is advising motorists to be cautious of deer activity on and around Kansas roadways.
Law enforcement officers say they routinely investigate a large number of deer-vehicle crashes during the October-through-December breeding season, when active deer often dart in front of vehicles.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 10,184 deer-vehicle accidents occurred on Kansas roadways in 2001, causing 418 injuries but no deaths. In Douglas County, there were 127 deer-vehicle accidents last year.
"Drivers should use extra caution in the coming months," said Col. Don Brownlee, patrol superintendent. "We hope that by staying alert and paying more attention to the road and roadside, drivers will be able to avoid deer collisions."
The patrol offers the following tips to avoid and mitigate vehicle-deer crashes:
Look for deer. Be especially alert at dawn and dusk, the peak movement times for deer, and when visibility is low.
Slow down near woods, parks, golf courses, streams and deer-crossing signs, which are posted where deer-vehicle collisions have occurred repeatedly.
Deer usually travel in groups. When one deer crosses the road, there may be others about to cross. Be prepared to stop for others darting into the road.
Slow down when your vehicle approaches deer standing near roadsides. Such deer have a tendency to bolt, possibly onto the roadway. Use emergency flashers to warn oncoming drivers after you see deer near a roadway.
Always wear your seat belt. Statistics show that most people injured or killed in deer-related collisions were not wearing seat belts.
The most serious accidents occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles by trying to avoid an animal. Do not take unsafe evasive actions. It is usually safer to strike the deer than another object, such as a tree, ditch or another vehicle.
Motorcyclists need to be especially careful; fatality rates are higher in deer-motorcycle accidents than in deer-car crashes.
If you hit a deer, pull over onto the shoulder, turn on your emergency flashers and watch for traffic before exiting your vehicle, officials said. Do not try to remove a deer from the roadway unless you are sure it is dead; an injured deer could hurt you.
Anyone involved in a vehicle-deer crash that results in personal injury or property damage that totals $500 or more is required to immediately report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency, officials said. Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.