The number of car accidents involving deer is down year over year in Kewaunee County according to Sheriff Matt Joski. So far there have been 253 car/deer collisions, down from 273 at this point in 2019. While the downward trend is good, it is only 15 away from the 268 such accidents reported in all of 2000. Joski believe those numbers could be lower than one would think just because of how cars are constructed these days to do a better job of absorbing impact. He believes the growth of smartphones and other pieces of technology are to blame for the number of incidents due to inattentive driving.
Joski hopes motorists remember to keep their eyes on the road, give other vehicles plenty of space, and be especially attentive during the early morning and evening hours.
MORE FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
Both last weekend and this past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in cleaning up three of our Adopt a Highway sections on STH 42 between Kewaunee and Algoma. It is always interesting to see what kind of items one gets to pick up each year. One thing I did notice was the number of animal carcasses along the roads and down in the ditches. This of course gave me my inspiration for this week’s article.
As it relates to car-deer accidents, we have seen the numbers increase over the years, but having dug deeper into the statistics it is alarming just how much of an increase we have experienced.
Our current record management system dates back to 2000. In that year we documented 268 car-deer accidents. In 2019 we had a total of 446, and these are just the accidents that were reported to us. Many times for various reasons deer are struck by motor vehicles however the drivers decide not to report these accidents, and we are aware of these due to the deer carcasses which remain at the scene. Those accidents are not counted in these data.
First, let me say that I have no idea about deer populations or trends. That is information that the DNR keeps track of and while it may have some bearing on our growing number of car deer accidents, I also believe we have developed some bad habits over the past 17 years which has also led us to aid in the increase.
The biggest contributor I see is inattentive driving. Although inattentive driving has been around since the dawn of the automobile, the presence of electronic devices is something new, and with it has emerged a new method of communication — texting. We have all heard of or may even have witnessed the dangers that texting while driving poses on our roadways, and I have no doubt that there are more than a few car deer accidents that could have been avoided had the driver been paying closer attention to the road.
Distracted driving is a danger throughout the year, but if there was ever a time to put your phones away it is in these next few weeks and months. As a driver your focus needs to be on your primary mission and that is driving. Many accidents could be avoided by an increase in vigilance on the road edges and ditch lines. Most of the ditches on the Town, County and State Highways have been cleared for this very reason, providing drivers with an additional field of vision so as to prevent such tragedies.
As I stated earlier, although we are tracking low this year thus far, we have seen the increase in car deer accidents historically. Please take your time and be watchful especially in the evening and morning hours. This includes allowing additional space between your vehicle and the vehicle traveling in front of you. Following too closely is always unsafe, but more so in this time of year when that vehicle in front of you may have to take evasive maneuvers and you are too close to effectively react.