With November being the peak month for accidents involving deer, the Kansas Highway Patrol urges motorists to be on the lookout for the animals as they drive the state's roadways.
A crash involving a deer Nov. 12 in Allen County claimed the lives of three women who were in a minivan, according to the KHP.
Another crash Nov. 13 on the Kansas Turnpike southwest of Topeka resulted in a woman being taken to a local hospital after she swerved to avoid hitting a deer.
KHP Technical Trooper Stephen LaRow said that in 2016, the state recorded 10,242 car v. deer crashes, resulting in seven people being killed and 597 being injured. In 2015, there were 10,084 car v. deer crashes, resulting in eight deaths and 531 injuries.
Car v. deer crashes can occur in nearly every part of the state. LaRow said that in 2016, Butler County in south-central Kansas recorded 385 car v. deer crashes in a mostly rural area. Meanwhile, Johnson County — a more populated area in northeast Kansas — had 371 car v. deer crashes.
Though car v. deer crashes can occur at any time during the year, LaRow noted the heaviest concentration is during the fall. That is the height of the rutting — or mating — season for deer.
“Dusk and dawn tend to be our peak times,” LaRow said. “That’s when the deer are most mobile, especially during the rut right now.”
LaRow offered several safety tips for motorists if they encounter deer on or near the roadway.
“No. 1, don’t swerve to try to avoid it,” he said. “You might go into the ditch and roll. It’s better to strike the deer than risk going into the ditch and rolling.
“The swerving can lead to over-correcting, and you run the risk of a rollover, which is often more dangerous than just hitting the animal.”
If a motorist hits a deer and their vehicle is disabled, LaRow said, “the best thing to do is try to get off the road as far as possible.”
LaRow advised people to pull off the road, then stay in their car and call law enforcement, rather than getting out of their vehicle to check on the injured animal.
He said people who get out of a vehicle and cross a roadway to check on a deer “take some serious risks,” including being struck themselves by a passing vehicle or encountering an animal that can be extremely aggressive after being injured.
“Call and let dispatch know that there’s an animal in the roadway,” LaRow said. “We’ll come by and we can drag it off.”
LaRow said it has been his experience that more often than not, a deer that has been hit by a vehicle ends up on the side of the road or in the median.
People who want to take a deer that has been hit for its meat need to contact local law enforcement, such as their county sheriff’s office, which in many cases issues tags for those wishing to pick up a freshly killed animal.
In the crash in Allen County, three women were killed when a deer that had been struck by a passing car went airborne and crashed through the windshield of a minivan passing in the opposite direction, authorities said.
The KHP said the crash occurred just before dusk at 5:30 p.m. on US-169 highway, about four miles south of Iola.
The highway patrol identified the fatality victims as Sherry Laraine Bingham, 33, of Chanute; Ciara Joan Edwards, 32, of Chanute; and Samantha Renee McMillan, 37, of Walnut.
As people travel the state’s roadways this time of year, LaRow said, drivers need to be extra cautious, particularly with more deer on the move.
He said the patrol always advises people to “give their full attention” to the road when they are driving.
“But this time of year,” he said, “it’s especially important.”