Car-deer accidents increase during fall

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

The fall tends to be a peak time of year for car-deer crashes.

Undersheriff Jim Sherley said car-deer crashes have not spiked recently in Leavenworth County. But he anticipates the number of accidents involving deer will increase as harvests continue and hunting picks up.

As dusk gets closer to the rush hour and daylight saving time ends, the risk of car-deer accidents in low-light conditions will increase.

"Those numbers will typically pick up at that point," Sherley said.

Officials with state agencies and AAA Kansas also point to the deer breeding season this time of year as another cause of increased accidents.

In 2020, a total of 214 car-deer accidents were reported in Leavenworth County, according to information released by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

These accidents resulted in 14 people being injured and one person was killed.

Statewide, there were 9,670 car-deer crashes in 2020. These accidents resulted in 564 people being injured and four people died.

“In addition to potentially causing human injuries and loss of life, deer collisions often cause significant vehicle damage that can lead to large expenses for the vehicle owner if not properly insured,” Shawn Steward, public and government affairs manager for AAA Kansas, said in a news release. “Of the animal strikes reported by AAA Insurance policy holders in 2020, the average cost per claim was nearly $5,500, an increase of more than $1,000 per claim from 2019.”

Sherley recommends drivers stay alert and use their seat belts.

"Avoid any distractions within the vehicle," he said.

He also recommends being vigilant when driving through places that are marked as deer crossing areas as well as locations where drivers have seen deer in the past.

“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,” Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Candice Breshears said in a news release. “Often, we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road or veering into oncoming traffic.”

Anyone involved in a car-deer crash resulting in personal injury or property damage of $1,000 or more is required to immediately report the incident to the nearest law enforcement agency.

To remove a deer carcass, or any part of a deer, from a crash site, a salvage tag must first be obtained. Salvage tags can be issued by sheriff's deputies, KHP troopers or Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks game wardens.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR