Oh deer: Animals cause roadway trouble
The newly-formed Traffic Safety Advisory Committee wants Douglas County drivers to know about a seemingly-benign threat.
About 30 percent of Douglas County traffic accidents since 1999 have involved deer. Ninety percent of these accidents have caused property damage more than $500 and about 5 percent resulted in injury.
"One of our functions we see is doing some public education on traffic safety," said Douglas County Engineer Keith Browning. "Deer accidents increase this time of year, so we just wanted to be sure people were aware of the situation."
According to the committee, more than half of deer-related crashes in the county happened between September and December.
"They're just on the move more," Browning said. "I think another reason is because this is the harvest time for crops, and I think just the harvest changes their habitat."
Maps of deer-related accidents in the Eudora area show clusters of accidents on Douglas County Road 1057 Road from K-10 to County Road 1000 Road, and on 1000 Road between East 600 Road and 1061 Road. Accidents on 1061 Road run from south to 56 Highway near Baldwin. A few others are scattered around town near the Kansas River and on 10th Street.
The accident areas aren't necessarily heavily wooded, Browning said.
"One thing that kind of strikes you with the map of all the accidents is it's all over the county," he said. "I think people just really need to be aware at this time of year."
Browning said that when an area gets more than five deer-related accidents per year, the county puts up a deer crossing sign.
"The deer crossing sings people see out there aren't put up haphazardly," he said.
Although more than half of deer-related accidents occur in the dark, Browning cautioned drivers to be aware of deer during dawn and dusk.
"Part of that is because there's more traffic in rush hour," Browning said.
Whether roadways have a crossing sign or not, drivers need to pay attention.
"They need to be looking at the big picture and taking in what's on the side, looking for movement," Browning said. "When they see one deer, there will be more following that."