Drive defensively during deer season

TOPEKA – Driving defensively during the deer mating season is a must for Kansas drivers.

The reality of driving on Kansas roads and highways this time of year is the possible encounter with a deer. That can happen whether you live in Johnson County in eastern Kansas or Johnson City in the southwestern part of the state.

A 2015 report from State Farm Insurance says that Kansas has the 18th-highest frequency in deer-vehicle mishaps in the United States. The chance of a driver having a vehicle collision with a deer in Kansas this fall is 1 in 125. The national rate is 1 in 169.

The average property damage from a deer-vehicle collision jumped 6 percent this year to $4,135, according to the current nationwide study.

Mid-fall and mid-spring are likely times of the year for deer to be seen on Kansas roadways, because of breeding habits during the fall and growth of vegetation during the spring. And, sunrise and sunset are the times that deer are most active.

When an accident occurs, you should consider the following:

  • If you do hit a deer and are uncertain whether the animal is dead, keep your distance. You might be dealing with an injured, wild animal with sharp hooves.
  • If the deer is blocking the roadway and poses a danger to other motorists, you should immediately report the incident to the local law enforcement agency.
  • Deer accidents are usually covered under a person’s comprehensive coverage, not collision coverage.
  • Stay alert, always wear your seat belt and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.
  • Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road.
  • Do not rely exclusively on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer.
  • When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway.
  • Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious accidents occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit other vehicles or lose control of their cars. Potentially, you will risk less injury by hitting the deer.
  • If you see one deer, there are likely more nearby.
  • If the deer stays on the road, stop on the shoulder, put on your hazard lights and wait for the deer to leave the roadway; do not try to go around the deer while it is on the road.

Information from the Kansas Insurance Department. Photo Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

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