Deer related accidents on the rise

rpulley@lsjournal.comOctober 25, 2013 

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    Top 10 Missouri cities with deer crashes in 2012

    Source: Missouri Department of Transportation

    Kansas City 228 Wildwood 67 Cape Girardeau 53 Lee’s Summit 51 Jefferson City 30 Maryland Heights 30 Rolla 23 Osage Beach 23 Hannibal 21 Joplin 19

Lee’s Summit is one of the most likely Missouri towns where a motorist might hit a whitetail deer.

In 2012, the city had 51 deer crashes, the fourth highest number in the state.

The problem is worse in fall when bucks become more active looking for mates. Deer are moving away from farmers harvesting corn and beans, fawns and does are separating, while bucks are establishing territories.

A combination of city and county woodland parks, agricultural land, highways and a relatively high population, sets up a conflict that results in lots of insurance claims and expense.

“The city has a strong commitment to green spaces and parks which create excellent areas for wildlife like deer,” said Sgt. Chris Depue, Lee’s Summit Police Department spokesman. “In addition there are several areas with the city and adjacent to the city that are less developed and these areas always hold wildlife. Motorists should always be careful when driving through one of these areas.”

Deer are most active just before sunset or dawn but also sometimes move around during the day.

Depue suggested several areas to avoid or where to be cautious because deer-car accidents are more frequent:

• Roads near the Jackson County lakes (Blue Springs, Jacomo and Prairie Lee)

• The Missouri 150 corridor and Missouri 291 South

• Areas along U.S. 40 east of M-291

• Ward, Scherer and Hook roads on the southwest side.

Chances of your hitting a deer if driving in Missouri in the next 12 months are 1 in 116, ranking Missouri at No. 15 in the country, according to State Farm Insurance. The national average is 1 in 171.

Using its claims data and the number of licensed drivers in each state, State Farm estimates 1.2 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, an increase of 7.7 percent over the prior year. The previous three years have seen an overall drop of 2.2 percent.

Jackson County was third highest in the number of deer collisions reported to Missouri Department of Transportation, second highest was Jefferson and St. Louis County was at the top.

In Missouri, there were a reported 3,980 collisions on highways last year, with five fatalities and 413 injuries, according to MoDOT.

MoDOT spokesman Steve Porter said Lee’s Summit did drop in rankings for number of deer crashes from No. 2 the previous year.

He had some additional advice, too. If you see a deer alongside the road, don’t honk your horn. It startles them. They might leap in front of your vehicle. Be aware deer often travel in herds.

“They’re unpredictable,” Porter said. “Don’t just watch for a deer coming across the highway, watch for the second, third and fourth deer.”

Slow down until the animal passes. He said don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer, you might lose control or pull into an oncoming vehicle and have a worse accident; wear seat belts.

One last thing, those deer whistles that attach to the front bumpers of cars to warn the animals away...

“They don’t work,” Porter said.

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