Archive for Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Deer alert!

October 29, 2003

It's that time of year again.

Deer are on the move throughout Leavenworth County, and that can mean high repair bills for area motorists.

Traditionally, the number of vehicle-deer accidents begins to accelerate in October.

"This is the time of year or close to the time of year that deer are out running around," said Sgt. Charlie Yates of the Leavenworth County sheriff's office.

And while there's definitely an increase in the number of deer accidents on roads in the county, Yates said he's noticed that the number of crashes doesn't drop off as dramatically as it used to.

"Now, it's kind of a year-round thing," he said.

Yates, who said he's slammed into only one deer in his nearly 25 years with the department, does have some advice for motorists.

"I think the biggest thing, especially at night, is just to be alert," he said. "I think we all get in that mode of being relaxed when we're driving down the road, and we're not ready to react to anything unexpected."

Unprepared motorists, he said, are more likely to veer off the road or into oncoming traffic when trying to avoid a deer.

Here are the number of vehicle-deer accidents the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department responded to in 2002 and has responded to to-date this year. 2002 2003

¢ Jan. 27 11

¢ Feb. 26 16

¢ March 19 17

¢ April 8 11

¢ May 14 10

¢ June 14 16

¢ July 16 9

¢ Aug. 4 6

¢ Sept. 8 13

¢ Oct. 13 21

¢ Nov. 41

¢ Dec. 26

Total: 216 130

"We start putting on the brakes, we're trying to avoid the deer and we're off on the side of the road," Yates said.

He also encouraged drivers to obey speed limits -- and to slow down in areas where deer are plentiful. And, he warned, that drivers who encounter deer should not slam on their brakes.

"That's easier said than done," he added. "That's usually our first reaction: Oh no, my car. I can avoid this animal.

"Usually, when that happens, you're off in the ditch or off in another lane. And things get worse."

And remember, he said, deer usually travel in groups.

"If you see one, there's usually another one close by," Yates said.

During the years, Yates has read varying opinions in the debate over the effectiveness of deer whistles.

"I've read some literature when they've done some testing and they feel it really doesn't work," he said.

But then again, the sheriff's department does have the whistles on all its cars.

"Whether they work or not, I've noticed the animals will stop and look," Yates said. "Can I attribute that to the whistles or not? No, I can't."

And sheriff's vehicles are not immune to deer accidents.

"It's like everybody else going down the road," the sergeant said. "They're up on the roadway, and there's nothing you can do. Sometimes, you have three, four or five units that need to be repaired. It can be a problem."

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