Kansas Agencies Remind Drivers of Vehicle-Deer Collisions

It’s October and deer will soon be on the move, if they are not already.

Deer often prance across the street without looking both ways and sometimes stop in the middle of the road with the dreaded “deer in the headlights” expression, resulting in the age old question, “Am I going to hit a deer or is the deer going to hit me?”

Kansas Highway Patrol, along with the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and AAA, have provided what to do if people see a deer or people who are unfortunate and hit a deer.

According to data provided by the KHP which documented vehicle-deer collisions from 2006 through 2017, beginning around October and through November there is an increase in vehicle-deer collisions, the Pittsburg Morning Sun reported.

The incidents spike mid-November which is when the rut, or mating season for deer peak. The deer are also on the move to seek shelter and better habitats as crops are harvested and leaves fall. “The deer population has stabilized over the last six years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” said Levi Jaster, big game coordinator at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “This time of year, young animals are dispersing to find new places to live and breeding season is approaching.

“More animals on the move mean more of them will be crossing roads, so be extra cautious in areas with good deer habitat.” According to KDOT in a release, “10,226 (17 percent) of the 58,834 vehicle crashes reported in 2017 were deer-related (crashes in which a deer and vehicle actually collided or the presence of a deer was a contributing circumstance). Crashes involving deer occur in every part of the state throughout the year.”

In 2017 there were 170 total vehicle-deer collisions in Crawford County. There were eight injuries and zero fatalities and 162 people reported “personal damage.”

“As we approach the fall season, the frequency of car-deer accidents tend to increase dramatically,” Pittsburg Police Lt. Tim Tompkins said. “The police department would like to remind drivers to be mindful of deer being on the move crossing roadways and to be alert to roadside movement both on our rural highways and within the city limits.”

AAA Kansas said in the release that in addition to the human injuries and loss of life, the collisions can cause significant vehicle damage, and if not properly insured it can cost upward of $4,500 per claim.

According to the release, if deer appear alongside the road the Kansas Highway Patrol “cautions drivers to refrain from making exaggerated maneuvers to avoid a deer in the road, lest a bad situation become even worse.”

“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,” KHP’s Lt. Adam Winters said. “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 oncoming traffic.”

The agencies recommend the following to help motorists avoid crashes with deer:

If people do strike a deer, here are some additional tips: