Officer warns drivers to watch for deer
The weather is getting cooler, which means deer are on the move.
And that can spell trouble for drivers.
"The deer are active this time of year," sheriff's Lt. Andy Dedeke said. "For one, they're foragers and they're in search of food. There's also hunting that starts around this time. That gets people moving, which flushes the animals out. I also believe it's their rutting or mating season, which gets them moving as well."
While the Kansas Department of Transportation showed that 243 car deer accidents occurred in Leavenworth County in 2005, Dedeke said accidents involving deer seem to be less than what they have dealt with in the past.
"A reason we may be down is the department of public works is keeping the vegetation cleared from the roadway as much as possible," he said.
However, Dedeke said he has seen a sizeable increase in car-deer accidents in the past week and expects that to increase during the fall and winter months.
While Dedeke said he rarely sees injuries associated with car-deer accidents in Leavenworth County, it is important for motorists to be conscious of the animals.
"If you see one deer, a good rule of thumb is there are probably more around," he said. "Be alert for others."
Dedeke also said that if a motorist sees a deer, they should try to slow down if they can. He said a minor accident involving a deer could turn into a major accident if a motorist were to swerve to miss striking a deer. It is better to hit the deer than to strike another vehicle. The best way to avoid car-deer accidents, he said, is to use caution and be aware.
"Be alert, drive defensively, wear your seatbelt and try to be constantly aware of where you are," he said. "That way if you do have to call in an accident, we can get help to you quickly."
According to the state transportation department, car-deer accidents in Kansas decreased by 1,131 -- from 9,950 accidents in 2004 to 8,819 accidents in 2005. In 2005, car-deer accidents resulted in 328 injuries and two deaths. In 2004, 364 injuries and four fatalities were reported.
Leavenworth County was sixth among Kansas' 105 counties in the number of car-deer accidents last year with 243. The county was fourth in 2004.
The state's major population centers continue to have high rates of car-deer accidents, according to KDOT.
Johnson County had the highest number of car-deer accidents in 2005 with 358 and Sedgwick County followed with 345. Shawnee County dropped to 271, and Butler County was fourth with 261. Reno County was fifth with 248.
The Kansas Highway Patrol offers these tips:
- Always use seatbelts.
- Intentionally look for deer. Be especially alert at dawn and dusk. Scan the sides of roads.
- Slow down near woods, parks, golf courses, streams and at deer-crossing signs.
- Deer usually travel in groups. When one deer crosses the road, there likely are others. Be prepared to stop for others darting into the road.
- Slow down when approaching deer standing near roads. They have a tendency to bolt, possibly onto the road.
- If you hit a deer, pull over onto the shoulder, turn on your emergency flashers and watch for traffic before exiting your vehicle. Do not try to remove a deer from the road unless you are certain it is dead. If you have a cellular phone, dial *47 (*HP) for a Highway Patrol dispatcher or *KTA (582) for assistance on the Kansas Turnpike.
- Anyone involved in a vehicle-deer crash that results in personal injury or property damage that totals $1,000 or more is required to immediately report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency.