Highways England deer warning Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Changes to the clocks mean deer movement will coincide with peak commuting hours

Highways England, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and The Deer Initiative have joined forces to warn motorists about the heightened risk of deer-vehicle collisions this autumn.

October through to December is a high-risk period as deer will be on the move for the autumn mating season, also known as the rut.

The highest risk of a deer-vehicle collision occurring is said to be between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

There are around two million deer living wild in the UK, and it is estimated that there could be up to 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents this year alone. This could result in 400 to 700 human injuries and 20 deaths.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said:

“Our advice to drivers is to stay vigilant, especially during dawn and dusk when the deer are more mobile, which coincides with the morning and evening rush hour.

“Slowing down will give you more time to brake if an animal darts out into the road without warning.”

Five driving tips to help to avoid deer on the roads

Drivers are urged to be more aware during this time of year and take note of the following advice:

  1. When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, check your speed and stay alert
  2. If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can, but dip them if you see deer as they may ‘freeze’
  3. More deer may follow the first one you see, so keep vigilant
  4. Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse
  5. If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights

If you see an injured deer on the roadside

  • Pull over at the next safe place
  • Call the Police. They will deal with road safety issues and have access to a specialist who will know the best course of action for the animal if it is alive

If you hit a deer while driving

Your priorities, in this order, are:

  • keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can
  • park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on. Consider using it to also warn other road users
  • call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it
  • call the police

Remember

Don’t approach live deer. They may hurt you, or run across traffic causing another accident.

If you need to report a deer-vehicle collision or to seek safety information, the Deer Aware website gives basic advice on how to avoid a collision.

It also collects data on the number of accidents and its research is the only national effort to collect data that could be used to save lives.