Motorists warned about deer collisions
Find out why accidents peak during the autumn, and what to do if you hit a deer while driving.
As the nights get longer, drivers are urged to be more vigilant about deer straying into the road.
Autumn and spring are peak times for deer collisions as this is when the animals wander across roads in search of new territories. Drivers need to be especially on their guard between sunset and midnight, and the hours just before and after sunrise.
According to the government, as many as 74,000 deer are killed in vehicle collisions across Britain each year. And there’s a big danger to humans too, with up to 1000 injuries annually and as many as 20 fatalities among motorists and passengers linked to these collisions.
Even in less serious incidents, the damage caused to cars by deer collisions can result in higher car insurance premiums for drivers.
Tips for driving with extra care
When it comes to driving safely when animals are around, you should to give yourself more time to react if you see a deer sign – slow down and be prepared to stop. Deer warnings are placed at locations where the animals are known to be active and are likely to cross.
After dark, use full-beam when there’s no traffic coming from the opposite direction – the light will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the road and give you more time to react. But there’s an important caveat.
“When a deer is seen on the road, dim your headlights as when startled by the beam they may ‘freeze’ rather than leaving the road,” said David Jam, Director of The Deer Initiative.
Meanwhile Leonardo Gubert, Senior Ecologist at Highways England, warned drivers to be ‘extra vigilant’ at times when deer are on the move.
Leonardo said: “You may be well-travelled and on a well-known route without ever seeing a deer before, but there may be one hidden in nearby foliage or woodlands and some species of deer can often gather in large groups; you may have seen one and avoided it but others may follow and unexpectedly dart out into the roadway.”
He added: “You may have also seen deer signs at locations where you have never spotted deer, but the fact is that they have been installed in areas with high deer numbers and their purpose is to alert drivers that there is a higher possibility of encountering them along that particular stretch of road.”
If you hit a deer while driving, take these steps:
1. Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe you can
2. Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on
3. Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it
4. Call the police.
To report a collision with deer – or to get more information on safety advice – see Deer Aware’s website.