Deer should be seen and not struck
Next four weeks make for high-risk driving
We have a map on our office wall that charts the number of vehicle/deer accidents in Douglas County. Little yellow dots depict the location of each reported accident.
Like some exotic fever outbreak, every route from Eudora to my home in Baldwin City is covered with yellow dots. Near creeks and timbers, the dots are stacked like chips after a winning poker hand.
Since daylight savings time ended, I've been driving home after dark. I go slow, hoping that if I do hit a deer the result would be same as that of my Granddad soon before he gave up driving. At that time, his top speed on the country roads he exclusively drove was about 30 mph.
One fall, he hit a deer with the spare tire he carried on his front bumper. The deer bounced away unharmed with no damage to his truck. People, he said with some measure of pride, had a difficulty believing he drove fast enough to hit a deer.
That's my hope, but I know even at my most cautious I drive 15 to 20 mph faster than Granddad. Unlike his pickup, the foreign compact I drive would be overmatched in any collision.
I saw a graph last year put together by the Kansas Department of Transportation that indicated I have an ever-increasing chance of hitting a deer in the next 11 days. The graph used data gathered in a 10-year period to chart the average number of vehicle/deer accidents per day of the year. The resulting graph resembled a mountain with steep slopes.
The highlands start on Oct. 10 ,when the average number of such accidents first exceeds 200. The mountain's peak is Nov. 17, when there are an average of 700 vehicle/car accidents reported. The rate then declines as sharply as it increased, dropping back below the 200-per-day average again the last week of December.
I remind myself those are the reported accidents. The real number could be doubled or tripled.
Deer are too commonplace to be considered exotic anymore, but I still feel a touch of the wild at the sight a group of deer leaping over fences. That is not to say I'm one of those so enthralled the beauty of deer that I oppose hunting the animals. I am happy to see the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department is allowing additional deer to be taken in a region that includes De Soto, Eudora and the roads I take home.
I would much rather a deer be the trophy on someone's wall than an ornament on the the hood of my car.