Oh, deer! It’s that time of year again…

The Kansas Highway Patrol is advising all motorists to be cautious of deer activity on and around Kansas roadways this fall.

Because the deer-breeding season generally runs from October into December, law enforcement officers routinely investigate a large number of deer-vehicle crashes this time of year.

Deer continue to pose a significant traffic hazard in Kansas. According to Kansas Department of Transportation statistics, 9,108 deer-vehicle crashes occurred on Kansas roadways in 2003, causing 332 injuries and one death.

In Marion County, 109 deer-vehicle accidents were reported in 2003, down from a record 147 over a 12-year span starting 1992.

Patrol Superintendent Colonel William Seck said, “Troopers hope drivers will use extra caution in the coming months. By staying alert and paying more attention to the road and roadside, you may decrease your chances of colliding with a deer. And, as always, buckle your seat belts and use child safety seats to protect your family in the event of a crash.”

KHP offers the following tips to avoid and mitigate vehicle-deer crashes:

n Intentionally look for deer. Be especially alert at dawn and dusk, which are the peak movement times for deer and when visibility is low.

n Slow down near woods, parks, golf courses, streams, and deer-crossing signs, which are posted where deer-vehicle collisions have repeatedly occurred.

n Deer usually travel in groups. When one deer crosses the road, others may be about to cross. Be prepared to stop for others darting into the road.

n Slow down when approaching deer standing near roadsides. Deer have a tendency to bolt, possibly onto the roadway. Use emergency flashers to warn oncoming drivers after you see deer near a roadway.

n Always wear your seat belt. Statistics show that most people injured or killed in deer-related collisions were not wearing seat belts.

n Do not take unsafe evasive actions. Some of the most serious crashes occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles trying to avoid an animal. It is usually safer to strike the deer than another object such as a tree or another vehicle.

If you hit a deer, pull over onto the shoulder, turn on your emergency flashers, and watch for traffic before exiting your vehicle.

Do not try to remove a deer from the roadway unless you are sure it is dead; an injured deer could hurt you.

If you have a cellular phone, dial *47 (*HP) for the nearest KHP dispatcher or *KTA (582) for assistance on the Kansas Turnpike.

Anyone involved in a vehicle-deer crash that results in personal injury or property damage that totals $500 or more is required to immediately report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency. That amount will increase to $1,000 on Jan. 1.

Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.

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