As the days get shorter and as the weather begins to cool, it is likely more deer will be crossing the roads and providing an extra hazard for drivers.
From now through December, the number of vehicle-deer crashes on Kansas roads increase dramatically, according to a Facebook post by Kansas Highway Patrol.
“Mating season and the quest for more secure habitat have deer on the move this time of year, increasing the chances of vehicle collisions,” a Kansas Highway Patrol release states. “Typically, the greatest number of deer-vehicle crashes are in mid-November when the rut, or mating season, peaks.”
In addition to mating season, deer are seeking new food sources and shelter as crops are harvested and the leaves fall from trees and shrubs.
“The deer population has stabilized over the last five years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” said Levi Jaster, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Big Game Coordinator, in the release. “Young animals are dispersing to find new areas and breeding season is approaching. More animals moving means more of them are going to be crossing roads, so be extra cautious and reduce speed, especially in areas with good deer habitat.”
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 16 percent of the 62,150 vehicle crashes reported were deer related. In these cases, a deer and vehicle collided, or the presence of a deer contributed to the accident.
Sedgwick County had 382 deer-related crashes in 2016, the second-highest number in the state. Butler County had the most with 385 deer-vehicle crashes.
If you encounter a deer in the road, Kansas Highway Patrol urges you to avoid making exaggerated maneuvers, as a bad situation may 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 Lt. Adam Winters of Kansas Highway Patrol. “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.”