It’s that time of the year: Deer are on a mission to make love and they won’t let anything stand in the way of coming across that perfect mate.
Kirby Johnson got caught up in the love-making frenzy Sunday, when a buck pranced out in front of her car, significantly delaying her trip home from the Wichita area to Lawrence.
“He hit the front of my car, smashed in the hood and the radiator into the engine, and then impacted the windshield, and then rolled on top of the hood into the ditch,” said Johnson, adding that her totaled car ended up in the wrong lane of traffic after the wreck. “I was in shock that it happened; I’m still in shock.”
Deer-vehicle accidents are a common occurrence this time of year, said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Josh Kellerman, especially between October and December, the peak of deer breeding season.
Last year, bucks and does caused 9,371 car crashes on Kansas roadways, according to state statistics. The deer-vehicle wrecks caused injuries to 318 drivers and killed six others.
“Just be aware,” Kellerman said. “If you see one crossing the road, that’s a good idea to slow down. They like to travel in packs so there may be more to follow.”
Deer are most prevalent on the roadway during dusk and dawn. But no matter how much you prepare, you never know when or where a deer might dart in front of your vehicle with little or no warning.
A Topeka woman was seriously injured Friday morning when she swerved to avoid hitting a deer in the middle of Kansas Highway 10, just west of Lawrence, the highway patrol said. The woman, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, rolled her car and was ejected.
Officers say hitting the deer head-on is generally preferred.
“It can reduce your risk … of injury, by just striking the deer, instead of swerving,” Kellerman said.
The accidents that are frustrating for drivers do mean good business for local auto body shops.
“A lot of people get surprise impacts,” said Michael Pearson, of Pearson Collision Repair, Seventh and Connecticut streets. “Some of them are fairly dramatic and some of them are fairly minor.”
If the cars aren’t totaled, Pearson said the accidents can cause up to $10,000 in repair bills.
Johnson, the woman who came into contact with a deer on her way to Lawrence, is a prime example of the frustrations the out-of-nowhere deer can cause.
She’s stuck having to drive a rental car while maintaining a full-time job and going to college in Kansas City. But she’s also thankful she wasn’t badly injured.
“It could’ve been worse,” Johnson said. “I’m lucky.”