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Vehicle-deer accidents drop for first time in 16 years on Kansas roadways

Nov. 28, 2001 (Release 01-152)
News Contact: Stan Whitley, (785) 296-3585

Vehicle-deer accidents drop for first time in 16 years on Kansas roadways

Vehicle-deer accidents dropped for the first time in 16 years on Kansas roadways in 2000. That's good news for motorists as deer are now more active because their mating season is in full swing. In 1999, there were a record 10,254 vehicle-deer accidents in the state. Last year, that number was significantly reduced by more than 700, with accidents dipping to 9,537. There were also 71 fewer injury accidents and a reduction of 666 property damage only accidents. "We are certainly encouraged by the reduction in vehicle-deer accidents for the first time since 1985," said KDOT Secretary of Transportation E. Dean Carlson. "Motorists' awareness and defensive driving can play vital roles in helping us continue to address this serious safety concern on our roadways." Vehicle-deer accidents had risen every year since 1985 when 2,675 accidents and 129 injuries occurred. In 1980, there were only 1,395 accidents and 66 injuries, but by 1990 those figures had increased to 4,209 accidents and 161 injuries. Most vehicle-deer accidents occur during the three-month period between October and December, mainly because it's breeding season. There is also a slight increase in April and May, which is fawning season. The Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Highway Patrol encourage the practice of defensive driving particularly during these periods to help reduce the chances of accidents and injuries. "Drivers should use extra caution when driving before dawn and after dusk," said KHP Superintendent Col. Don Brownlee. "These are the most likely times to find deer on the move. Visibility is also low at these times." Law enforcement officers routinely investigate a large number of vehicle-deer crashes during this time of year. Besides awareness of when deer are most present, the following defensive driving techniques can enhance your safety:

  • Drive at a modest speed, particularly on roads near woods, parks, streams or creeks. Reduced speed will increase the likelihood of avoiding a deer collision.
  • Watch for deer-crossing signs. They are placed in areas where deer-vehicle collisions have repeatedly occurred.
  • Pay attention to the sides of the road, especially in areas where trees and shrubs could obscure the view.
  • The most serious accidents occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles trying to avoid an animal. Do not take unsafe evasive actions. It is usually safer to strike the deer than another object such as a tree or another vehicle.
  • Deer frequently travel in groups. When one deer crosses the road, there may be others waiting to cross. Slow down after the first crossing and watch for others that may dart into the road. Slow down when approaching deer standing near roadsides. They have a tendency to bolt, possibly onto the roadway.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Statistics show that most people injured or killed in deer-related collisions were not wearing seat belts.

This page last updated 12/13/2001