WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The peak time for deer to be on the move is upon us. And driving experts say this is the time to remind you to put the phone down.
“Distracted driving is the fast way to get into an accident,” says Mike Johnson with Wichita Driving School. “Ideally you want to be glued to the road. You want to be focused. But you’ve got to take it to a higher level late morning, early evening, this time of the year for deer.”
Johnson has been teaching driver’s education for years at his school. He says the reminders are necessary for adults as well.
“And if you see one deer, look for the pack,” says Johnson. “Because there’s usually multiple deer situations. Normally it’s not just one deer. Find the pack.”
Kansas Department of Transportation shows in the latest tracking stats from 2014 there were 422 deer-related accidents in Sedgwick County.
“It happens all the time. And we have patrol cars that hit deer from time to time, yes,” said Lin Dehning with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department. “As urban areas grow, we see more collisions with deer.”
A prime example is K-96 off I-135, east towards North Rock Road. Or K-42 going west out of Wichita. Dehning says, regardless any deer hot spots, deer roam and you can run across them literally anywhere.
“Be on the lookout for more deer, be scanning while driving. Especially in those low-light times before the sun goes down,” says Dehning. “If you’re in a situation where you’re possibly going to hit that deer, be careful to try to not swerve to avoid it. Because a lot of times people get into more trouble by trying to take evasive action.”
If you do hit one, check your insurance. And make sure you’ve got coverage.
“There’s comprehensive coverage and collision coverage,” explains insurance agent, David Lawrence, with State Farm. “And collision is when you collide with an object that is stationary. A common misconception is colliding with a deer or another animal is a collision loss. Actually it’s a comprehensive loss which involves losses such as hail or vandalism or theft. It falls under that category if you hit an animal since it’s an act of nature.”
Johnson tells his students, and adults as a reminder, if you hit a deer, make sure you are seen.
“A lot of these happen in the early morning hours or just before or after sunset,” says Johnson. “Put on your hazard lights and that way people behind you see those flashing lights and they’re going to be saying, OK something’s going on up there.”