Deer responsible for increased traffic accidents around Kansas City

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- It was a deadly weekend on Kansas highways.  Three people died in three separate accidents -- all caused by the same thing: deer.

Travis Sanders, 23, of Lawrence, Kan., hit a deer Sunday night on I-35 in Osage County. His car ended up sideways, partially in the median and the road. Sanders got out of the car and seconds later an SUV swerved to avoid the damaged car and hit Sanders, killing him.

The accident happened just after 7 p.m. According to Lt. Paul Behm with the Kansas Highway Patrol, it's one of the busiest times for deer.

"You really see them in the early morning hours of dawn and later evening hours of dusk and the overnight hours," he said.

Those are the normal deer hours, but from the middle of October until mid-to-late December, "any time" can be dangerous and in some cases deadly.

It's deer rut, or mating season, and deer are already impacting drivers across the state and in the metro.

"We've worked car deer crashes up on I-635 in the metro area, at I-35 and Lamar, 119th and I-35 and out in rural areas as well," Lt. Behm said. "They are everywhere. You just need to be prepared for that."

Lt. Behm says it's best to be in a defensive driving mode every time you get behind the wheel.  Wear your seat belt, slow down and try to leave extra space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. If a deer crosses your path try not to panic and don't jerk the wheel.

"You do not want to swerve to miss the deer," Lt. Behm said. "Statistically speaking, by swerving you will increase your chances of crashing your vehicle."

If you do crash, try to get your car off the road and keep your guard up.

"Stay in your vehicle and call 911. If you feel the need or have need to exit the vehicle for some reason, always be mindful of oncoming traffic. As you saw in Osage County this weekend, that gets very dangerous," Lt. Behm said.

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