It’s that time again: Be on the lookout for deer as you’re driving

Much of the fall is designated as deer hunting season, but for many Americans it might be more aptly renamed deer hitting season.

Deer mate during the months of October to December, so it’s no surprise that the number of vehicle-deer accidents increases during those three months.

A combination of no natural predators to keep deer populations in check and restrictions on when and where hunters can kill deer mean that herds have grown during the past several decades. And continual land development in rural areas has created a greater potential for deer and human conflicts.

Here are some numbers to illustrate just how much deer and humans are colliding.

$3.6 billion

The amount of vehicle damaged caused by deer accidents each year in the United States.

$3,170

The average amount of property damage per vehicle each deer accident is likely to cause.

1.6 million

The number of crashes each year in the United States caused by deer.

9,103

The number of accidents in Kansas in 2010 caused by deer.

2

The number of people who died in Kansas in 2010 from a deer related accident.

305

The number of people who were injured in Kansas in 2010 from a deer related accident.

4,704

The number of accidents in Kansas in 2010 where an animal, the majority of which are deer, were listed as a contributing cause.

8

The number of people injured from deer related accidents in 2010.

6.8 percent

Percentage of accidents in Douglas County in 2010 where deer were listed as the cause.

145

The number of deer related accidents in Douglas County in 1991.

55.9 percent

The increase in the number of deer related accidents in Douglas County from 1990 to 2010.

AAA and the Kansas Insurance Department have tips for drivers to decrease the chances of hitting a deer.

Stay alert

Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. By looking ahead, it’s hoped you’ll have enough time to react if a deer is spotted. Often, the reflection of a deer eyes and their silhouettes can be seen on the shoulder of the road. Remember if you see one deer, it’s likely others are nearby. Also, always wear a seat belt, remain awake and stay sober.

Use high beam headlights

If there isn’t any oncoming traffic, switch to your high beams. They help spot deer earlier, giving you more time to slow down. If there are deer on the road, beep your horn to scare them.

Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk

Deer tend to be on the move at the same time most workers are. So, make sure you’re on the lookout for them during early-morning commutes and on the drive home from work.

Brake, but don’t swerve

If a collision is unavoidable, AAA says to press the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Whatever you do, don’t swerve to avoid a deer. That can cause more serious crashes or result in drivers losing control of their vehicles.

Call for help

If you hit the deer, like thousands of Kansans do every year, contact your insurance company immediately. Collisions involving deer are generally covered under insurance policies. And, if the dead deer is blocking the road or poses a danger to other motorists, report the incident to a local law enforcement agency.

By Christine Metz

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