DRIVERS BEWARE: DEER ON THE MOVE
Kansas deer-vehicle collisions peak in November
PRATT — In Kansas, deer-vehicle accidents are common in November. Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) statistics show that November is the month when the highest number of deer-vehicle collisions occur. Motorists are encouraged to be on particularly high alert in the weeks before and after mid-November, historically when most deer-vehicle collisions occur.
One of the main reasons there is a greater potential for deer-vehicle accidents in November is the deer mating season. Deer are particularly active in the fall, with the peak mating season, called "rut," occurring in mid-November. In addition, deer tend to widen their forage range as they build up fat reserves for the winter. They often move from one forage range to another during the early winter, exposing themselves on highways. A reduction in daylight hours results in more people driving at dawn and dusk, when deer are more likely to be on the move.
In 2008, 9,371 deer-vehicle collisions were reported to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), slightly lower than 2007 and close to the relatively stable 10-year average. Deer-vehicle collisions occurred in every Kansas county. In most cases, counties with the highest populations recorded the most deer-vehicle accidents. Sedgwick County had the most accidents with 417, followed by Johnson County with 362 and Butler County with 285. More details, including a map showing all accidents and deer accidents by county, may be found at the KDOT website, www.ksdot.org/burtransplan/prodinfo/2008factsbook/Deer.pdf
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 following;
- 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;
- don’t swerve to avoid a collision with a deer because the most serious accidents occur when motorists are taking evasive action;
- heed deer crossing sign warnings and always wear a seat belt; and
- use bright lights and slow down whenever the reflective eyes of deer are spotted.