On her way to visit family in Lawrence, Sharon O’Neill noticed something missing along Kansas 10: those yellow signs with a leaping deer that warn motorists to be careful of animals crossing the highway.
O’Neill said the signs have been removed in recent months.
“I’d like to know why,” the Overland Park resident said. “Have the deer been removed too?”
No, the deer haven’t moved, but the thinking about deer signs certainly has.
Back in 2006, The Star’s Brad Cooper reported that the signs were falling out of favor. Researchers determined that the signs do little to prevent crashes, and Cooper found that states were trying many new approaches, from tall fences to reflectors to roadside sensors that set off flashing lights to alert drivers.
The Kansas Department of Transportation updated its policy on deer crossing signs in 2012, said agency spokeswoman Kim Qualls. Their placement is determined by the number of reported deer crashes, and the new policy sets a higher threshold for placement of the signs. KDOT recently removed deer signs along the Douglas County stretch of K-10 to conform with the policy.
“There are deer-related crashes all over the state with limited concentrations due to the variability of the deer movement,” she said. “Signs placed in a location that once was a hot spot for deer crashes may not be the hot spot for the next year or ever again for that matter.”
A KDOT newsletter said 15 percent of Kansas traffic crashes in 2012 involved deer, which resulted in two deaths and injuries to 322 people.
The peak time for deer-related crashes is October through December, when deer are breeding. During that time of year, Qualls said, KDOT collaborates with the Highway Patrol and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to remind motorists to be alert.
The Watchdog takes pride in his firm, but unverified, belief that Hollywood has made more movies about dogs than deer. So there, Bambi.
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