Highways England is warning drivers to look out for deer – particularly on rural roads and between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
Figures collated from various studies suggest there could be around 400 people injured in deer-related collisions each year, and potentially around 20 people killed.
At this time of year, deer collisions peak as many of the animals cross roads as they seek new territories.
As a result, Highways England has teamed up with The Deer Initiative to give the following advice to drivers:
- When you see deer warning signs, check your speed and stay alert
- If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can, but dip them if you see deer as they may ‘freeze’ on the spot
- If you see a deer, look for another – they often gather in herds and follow each other as they move around
- Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic
- Try to come to a stop as far away from an animal as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic
- Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer – hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could lead to a more serious collision
- If you must stop, use your hazard warning lights
Leonardo Gubert, senior ecologist at Highways England, said: “Sadly, the outcome of a collision involving a deer can be much more catastrophic than vehicle damage or injury to the animal.
“You may be well-travelled and on a well-known route without a previous sighting, but there may be deer hidden in nearby foliage or woodlands and some species of deer can gather often in large groups.
“We want everyone travelling on our roads to reach their destination safely and with as many as 1.5 million wild deer living across Britain it is vital for drivers to be aware of their presence, to be extra vigilant, especially at this time of year when deer are on the move, and to follow our advice.”
The warning from Highways England comes after five deer were found dead at one location on the A35 in Dorset recently.
David Jam, director of The Deer Initiative, said: “The recent spate of accidents is a stark reminder about the dangers of deer on our roads.
“We urge drivers to check their speed and stay alert especially when they see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road.”