MOTORISTS, BE AWARE! DEER ON THE MOVE
Kansas deer-vehicle accident rate still lowest in Midwest
Since 1998, the trend in deer-related vehicle accidents in Kansas has been stable or declining. Still, late October and November are when deer are most active. As a result, this is also the time when most deer-vehicle accidents occur. This is the mating season, called "rut," and while deer are generally nocturnal, they may move at all times of day and night during rut, paying little attention to motorists.
While activity begins to pick up in late October, Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) statistics show that November is the month when the highest number of deer-vehicle collisions occur. Motorists should be on high alert during the week or two before and after Nov. 17 -- historically the day deer-vehicle collisions peak. This peak coincides with the average peak of deer rut activity.
In addition, deer widen their forage range as they build up fat reserves for the winter. In late November and December, they often migrate from one forage range to another, exposing themselves on highways. A reduction in daylight hours also contributes to increased deer-vehicle collisions because of deer's nocturnal nature.
In 2007, there were 9,417 deer-vehicle collisions in Kansas, up slightly from the previous year. Five of these collisions were fatal, and 298 resulted in injuries. Deer-vehicle collisions occurred in every Kansas county. Counties with the highest human populations usually record the most deer-vehicle accidents. Johnson County had the most accidents with 375, followed by Sedgwick County with 357 and Butler County with 296.
Motorists should observe the following tips to avoid deer collisions:
- be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are particularly active;
- deer seldom travel alone, so if one deer crosses a road, there may be others nearby;
- reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas, green spaces such as parks or golf courses, agricultural fields, and water sources such as streams or ponds;
- don’t swerve to avoid a collision with a deer (the most serious accidents occur when motorists take evasive action);
- watch out for deer crossing signs and always wear a seat belt; and
- use bright lights, watch for reflections from deer eyes, and slow down whenever deer are spotted.
State Farm Insurance Company has compiled data that compares the risks of deer-vehicle accidents across the nation. A map comparing each state may be found on the company's website: www.statefarm.com/_pdf/deer_map.pdf. This map reveal that the risk of drivers in Kansas having an accident with a deer are lower than in any other state in the Midwest.
For more information on deer-vehicle accidents, phone the Kansas Department of Transportation toll-free at 1-877-550-5368.