Motorists urged: Be deer aware Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Deer Initiative and Highways England have teamed up to give advice to drivers

Drivers are being warned to look out for deer roaming on to the country’s roads and posing risks to road users. At this time of year, deer collisions peak as many of the animals cross roads seeking new territories. The highest risk of collisions is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

Highways England senior ecologist, Leonardo Gubert, said:

“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 advice to drivers is:

  • When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, 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 instead of leaving the road
  • If you see a deer, look for another. They often gather in herds and follow each other as they move through the landscape.
  • Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic, use your hazard lights. 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

Deer signs are placed at locations where the animals are known to be active and are likely to cross. They help inform drivers of the need to slow down to give more time to react.

David Jam, director of The Deer Initiative said:

“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.”

Figures collated from a number of studies suggest that while it is safe to say 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle collisions every year, the figure could be as high as 74,000 across Britain as a whole.

Conservative estimates of 400 injuries to motorists and passengers related to these collisions could in fact be nearer 1000 annually.

Accurate records of deer-vehicle collisions are vital as they help build an accurate picture of the roads most at risk of deer collision which can then be assessed, and appropriate measures to tackle the issue can be put in place. Drivers are urged to report any incidents via the Deer Aware website.

Highways England works with partners to identify deer-related collision ‘hotspots’ and to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk. This includes installing deer proof fencing and constructing larger culverts which provide an alternative route for deer to cross the road.

If you hit a deer while driving, your priorities in this order are:

  1. Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can
  2. Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on – consider using it to also warn other road users
  3. Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it
  4. Call the police

If you need to report a deer vehicle collision or to find out more on safety advice please visit the Deer Aware website.