Fall brings increase in deer-vehicle crashes

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism photo

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas state agencies are warning motorists that mating season and the quest for more secure habitat have deer on the move at this time of year, increasing the chances of vehicle collisions.

Typically, the greatest number of deer-vehicle crashes is in mid-November when the rut, or mating season, peaks. In addition to the rut, deer are also on the move in mid-fall seeking new food sources and shelter as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs, leaving them less secure than in their summer habitats. Summer rains have added a new wrinkle, too.

“We have just experienced a summer rainfall pattern that has produced excellent growth of deer habitat,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism biologist Lloyd Fox. “Unlike the years of drought, we should expect more fawns this fall. Young animals of all species are prone to making mistakes. That includes mistakes crossing roads. Be extra careful.”

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 9,982 (16 percent) of the 60,340 vehicle crashes reported in 2015 were deer-related (crashes in which a deer and vehicle actually collided or the presence of a deer was a contributing circumstance). Although crashes involving deer occur throughout the year in every Kansas county, the highest number of crashes typically occur where there are the most vehicles. Sedgwick County had 374 deer-vehicle crashes in 2015, the most of any county, while Butler County followed with 356 deer-vehicle crashes.

statewide-deer-crashes-khp

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,” said the KHP’s Lt. Adam Winters. “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.”

Other tips to avoid deer collisions include:

  • Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are particularly active.
  • Watch for more than one deer, as they seldom travel alone.
  • Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces such as parks or golf courses and near water sources such as streams or ponds.
  • Deer crossing signs show where high levels of deer/vehicle crashes have occurred in the past.
  • Use your bright lights to help you detect deer as far ahead as possible.
  • Always wear a seat belt and use appropriate child safety seats. Even if you are waiting in your car, it is best to wear your seat belt, and have your children in car seats.

If you do hit a deer, here are some additional tips:

  • Slow down, pull onto the shoulder and turn on the emergency flashers.
  • Don’t worry about the animal. Law enforcement will arrange to have the animal removed from the road when they arrive. Tell the dispatcher if the deer is still in the road when you’re calling for help.
  • If possible, remain buckled up in your vehicle, protecting yourself in the event there is a secondary crash involving another vehicle.
  • If you must be outside your vehicle, stand as far off the road as possible; make sure hazard lights are activated; don’t stand between your vehicle and another vehicle; and make sure children are kept properly restrained in your vehicle.

To report a crash on Kansas highways from a cellular phone, call *47 (*HP) for a highway patrol dispatcher or *582 (*KTA) for assistance on the Kansas Turnpike. The crash can also be reported by dialing 911.

County Year Total Fatal Injury PDO* Deaths Injuries
Data as of 10/5/2016

County Year Crashes People
Total Fatal Injury PDO* Deaths Injuries
ALLEN 2015 130 0 14 116 0 16
ANDERSON 2015 98 0 3 95 0 3
ATCHISON 2015 66 0 4 62 0 5
BARBER 2015 68 0 4 64 0 4
BARTON 2015 189 0 9 180 0 10
BOURBON 2015 48 0 3 45 0 3
BROWN 2015 86 0 4 82 0 6
BUTLER 2015 356 0 14 342 0 17
CHASE 2015 42 0 1 41 0 1
CHAUTAUQUA 2015 39 0 2 37 0 2
CHEROKEE 2015 221 0 5 216 0 5
CHEYENNE 2015 14 0 2 12 0 3
CLARK 2015 22 0 2 20 0 2
CLAY 2015 100 0 3 97 0 3
CLOUD 2015 88 0 0 88 0 0
COFFEY 2015 155 0 5 150 0 5
COWLEY 2015 260 1 25 234 1 29
CRAWFORD 2015 197 0 3 194 0 3
DECATUR 2015 4 0 0 4 0 0
DICKINSON 2015 118 0 7 111 0 7
DONIPHAN 2015 33 0 3 30 0 3
DOUGLAS 2015 242 1 6 235 1 8
EDWARDS 2015 29 0 1 28 0 1
ELK 2015 12 0 1 11 0 1
ELLIS 2015 106 0 6 100 0 7
ELLSWORTH 2015 117 0 3 114 0 3
FINNEY 2015 48 0 2 46 0 2
FORD 2015 85 0 4 81 0 4
FRANKLIN 2015 163 1 8 154 1 8
GEARY 2015 161 0 10 151 0 12
GOVE 2015 27 0 1 26 0 3
GRAHAM 2015 68 0 1 67 0 1
GRANT 2015 14 0 3 11 0 3
GRAY 2015 17 0 1 16 0 1
GREELEY 2015 6 0 1 5 0 1
GREENWOOD 2015 61 0 3 58 0 3
HAMILTON 2015 4 0 0 4 0 0
HARPER 2015 92 0 6 86 0 6
HARVEY 2015 132 0 8 124 0 12
HASKELL 2015 9 0 2 7 0 2
HODGEMAN 2015 42 0 1 41 0 1
JACKSON 2015 99 0 9 90 0 10
JEFFERSON 2015 135 0 3 132 0 3
JEWELL 2015 31 0 1 30 0 1
JOHNSON 2015 320 0 23 297 0 23
KEARNY 2015 28 0 0 28 0 0
KINGMAN 2015 143 0 1 142 0 1
KIOWA 2015 27 0 4 23 0 4
LABETTE 2015 166 0 5 161 0 8
LANE 2015 5 0 1 4 0 1
LEAVENWORTH 2015 207 1 9 197 1 9
LINCOLN 2015 50 0 2 48 0 2
LINN 2015 98 0 1 97 0 1
LOGAN 2015 13 0 2 11 0 5
LYON 2015 214 0 6 208 0 7
MARION 2015 125 0 3 122 0 3
MARSHALL 2015 87 0 4 83 0 4
MCPHERSON 2015 171 0 5 166 0 6
MEADE 2015 25 0 1 24 0 1
MIAMI 2015 199 0 10 189 0 11
MITCHELL 2015 67 0 1 66 0 2
MONTGOMERY 2015 203 0 1 202 0 3
MORRIS 2015 69 1 2 66 1 2
MORTON 2015 10 0 1 9 0 1
NEMAHA 2015 67 0 2 65 0 2
NEOSHO 2015 204 0 10 194 0 12
NESS 2015 32 0 3 29 0 3
NORTON 2015 120 0 1 119 0 1
OSAGE 2015 132 0 12 120 0 13
OSBORNE 2015 66 0 1 65 0 1
OTTAWA 2015 52 0 5 47 0 11
PAWNEE 2015 111 0 5 106 0 5
PHILLIPS 2015 33 0 4 29 0 4
POTTAWATOMIE 2015 176 0 8 168 0 11
PRATT 2015 52 0 2 50 0 4
RAWLINS 2015 9 0 1 8 0 1
RENO 2015 291 0 12 279 0 13
REPUBLIC 2015 47 0 2 45 0 2
RICE 2015 124 0 3 121 0 3
RILEY 2015 182 0 12 170 0 13
ROOKS 2015 72 0 1 71 0 1
RUSH 2015 79 0 0 79 0 0
RUSSELL 2015 89 0 3 86 0 3
SALINE 2015 125 0 6 119 0 6
SCOTT 2015 6 0 1 5 0 2
SEDGWICK 2015 374 1 21 352 2 26
SEWARD 2015 24 0 1 23 0 1
SHAWNEE 2015 280 0 12 268 0 12
SHERIDAN 2015 26 0 1 25 0 1
SHERMAN 2015 24 0 1 23 0 3
SMITH 2015 60 0 2 58 0 2
STAFFORD 2015 88 0 5 83 0 5
STEVENS 2015 1 0 0 1 0 0
SUMNER 2015 207 0 11 196 0 14
THOMAS 2015 29 0 0 29 0 0
TREGO 2015 59 0 4 55 0 7
WABAUNSEE 2015 79 0 10 69 0 13
WALLACE 2015 1 0 0 1 0 0
WASHINGTON 2015 111 0 4 107 0 4
WICHITA 2015 9 0 0 9 0 0
WILSON 2015 98 1 2 95 1 2
WOODSON 2015 56 0 0 56 0 0
WYANDOTTE 2015 124 0 12 112 0 12
TOTAL 9 980 7 456  9,517  8 527

*PDO – Property Damage Only
**Fatal Data are 98% complete