Highways England, CLA (Country, Land and Business Association) and The Deer Initiative is warning motorists about the heightened risk of deer-vehicle collisions at this time of year.
Since the clocks went back, deer movements are more likely to coincide with peak commuting hours, increasing the likelihood of collisions. October to December is considered the highest-risk period when deer are on the move for their autumn mating season.
Motorists are urged to take the following advice:
- When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded 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.
- Be alert if you see one deer as others may be following.
- Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse.
- If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.
The highest risk of a deer-vehicle collision is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, said: ‘The one time you might experience a close encounter with a deer is when you are behind the wheel, especially during the rutting season when their increased activity could bring them out onto the roads. 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.’
CLA Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward said: ‘A collision with a deer can happen at any time of year but the darker evenings in the autumn increase the risk of the animals unexpectedly crossing roads and running straight into the line of oncoming traffic.
‘Not only is this an animal welfare issue, but considerable damage can be done to a vehicle if it collides with an animal as large as a deer, and there is the risk that driver and passengers could be injured, too.’
We are very lucky in this area to have so many deer, and not just at Ashridge. Hopefully the above advice will help to minimise incidents, but if you do see an injured deer on the road:
- 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, you should take the following actions, in this order:
- Keep yourself and anyone with you safe.
- Park in a safe place with your hazard lights on.
- Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it.
- Call the Police.
If you need to report a deer vehicle collision or get more safety advice, visit www.deeraware.com.