It’s the season where the leaves are changing color, a crisp chill is in the air — and Kansas motorists are more likely to encounter deer on streets and highways. Unfortunately, these meetings often result in a serious traffic accident.
Hundreds of thousands of animal-vehicle crashes occur each year across the country — more than 2,000 in Kansas — the majority with deer. This results in millions of dollars of damages, injuries, and in some cases even death.
Sometimes these accidents are unavoidable, particularly during the fall months into early winter when deer are active and breeding. However, attentive drivers can take several simple precautions to reduce the likelihood of these encounters resulting in a traffic accident.
Here are some defensive driving tips to help avoid deer-vehicle accidents:
- Fasten seatbelts. It’s simple common sense and the best defense in the event a crash is unavoidable.
- Pay attention to deer-crossing signs.
- Be especially alert at dawn and dusk. These are the times deer are most active.
- If one deer is seen, expect more to follow. Deer typically travel single file.
- If there is a deer on the road, brake firmly and blow the horn.
- If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve. Studies show the most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or object or roll over.
One proposed preventative measure is the use of deer whistles. Deer whistles produce ultrasonic noise when the vehicle to which they are attached exceeds 30 mph. The idea is the deer will be warned upon hearing the noise. It’s unclear whether deer hear the noise but, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studies show the whistles have no effect on deer behavior.
If a deer is struck, contact authorities.
Drivers may be legally required to report an accident with significant vehicle damage, depending on state laws. Also, contact the insurance company to report the claim. Collision with an animal is covered under the comprehensive section of auto insurance policies.