The Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and AAA Kansas are working together this fall to raise awareness and help drivers avoid collisions with deer.
While deer can be spotted near roadways any time of the year, motorists should be especially vigilant in the fall for deer crossing roadways due to the “rut,” or mating season – a time when deer are frequently on the move and at all hours of the day.
“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 KHP Lieutenant Candice Breshears. “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.”
Eight people were killed and 556 people were injured in deer-vehicle crashes on Kansas roadways in 2019.
“In addition to potentially causing human injuries and loss of life, deer collisions often cause significant vehicle damage that can lead to large expenses for the vehicle owner if not properly insured,” said Shawn Steward, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Kansas. “Of the animal strikes reported by AAA Insurance policy holders between 2016 and 2019, the average cost per claim was nearly $4,500.”
If a driver has a collision, they should move their vehicle to the shoulder, if possible, and call law enforcement – KHP dispatch at *47, the Kansas Turnpike at *KTA and local law enforcement at 911.
The agencies recommend the following to help motorists avoid crashes with deer:
- Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk, when deer are more active.
- If you see one deer, watch for others, as they seldom travel alone.
- Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces, such as parks and golf courses, and near water sources such as streams and ponds.
- Deer crossing signs show areas where high numbers of vehicle/deer crashes have occurred in the past. Heed these warnings.
- Use bright lights when there is no oncoming traffic and scan the road ahead of you to watch for deer.
- Don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer—the most serious crashes sometimes occur when motorists swerve and collide with another vehicle or run off the road and hit an obstacle.
- Always wear a seat belt and use appropriately-fitted child safety seats—they are your best defense should you be involved in a crash.
- Honk your horn with one long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten large animals, such as deer, away from your vehicle. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advises against relying on devices such as deer whistles and reflectors, which have not been proven to reduce collisions with animals.
Anyone involved in a deer-vehicle crash resulting 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. Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.
A salvage tag is required to remove a deer carcass, or any part of the carcass, from the crash site. Tags can be issued by KHP troopers, sheriff’s deputies or KDWPT game wardens.