Government & Politics

Accidents involving deer and vehicles are on the rise in Kansas

A deer looked up from eating in the woods at the Theodore Naish Scout Reservation in Bonner Springs.
A deer looked up from eating in the woods at the Theodore Naish Scout Reservation in Bonner Springs. The Kansas City Star

In the driver vs. deer derby that intensifies this time of year on Kansas roads, Johnson County is high on the list for deer accidents.

Johnson County recorded 323 deer-related vehicle accidents in 2014, third after Sedgwick County, which logged 422, and Butler County with 359.

The danger is real. Statewide in 2014, there were 9,607 such accidents, with two deaths and 533 injuries, according to a Department of Transportation report. Fifteen percent of crashes in Kansas were deer-related last year.

Department officials said accidents increase in the fall as deer are searching for more secure habitat, with the frequency peaking in mid-November, during the height of the mating season.

Motorists should be alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk, officials said, but taking extraordinary measures to avoid hitting a deer can make matters worse.

“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,” Adam Winters, a Kansas Highway Patrol lieutenant, said in a news release. “Often we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve in avoidance.”

Tips include reducing speed near wooded areas, green spaces and water sources and using your vehicle’s bright lights to help detect deer as far ahead as possible.

The Transportation Department’s statistics released Wednesday included a county-by-county report on deer accidents in 2014.

Edward M. Eveld: 816-234-4442, @EEveld

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