Watch out…deer!

 Published 10th October 2022
Driver Guides  General Guides 

It's that time of year again. The clocks will be changing soon, the nights are slowly drawing in, and the wildlife is getting frisky.

Which is why road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is advising drivers to take extra care in areas where deer are common. It's breeding season and the coming weeks mean deer are more mobile than usual, bringing them onto roads and increasing the risk of collisions.

And you really don't want to hit one of those things on a dark country road.

Aside from the trauma of injuring or killing such a beautiful animal, you'll also be faced with long insurance forms, a seriously damaged vehicle, and that's assuming you were lucky enough to walk away. Estimates indicate that up to 75,000 deer are killed each year in road collisions, and in some of those instances the deer wasn't the only serious casualty of the collision.

According to the experts, the UK deer population numbers more than two million, and research from National Highways shows around 75,000 deer are involved in vehicle collisions each year, with 10,000 killed instantly. The human death toll from deer collisions ranges between 10 and 20 annually, and industry estimates put the cost of damage to vehicles alone to be at least £17 million.

GEM Chief Executive Neil Worth says: “We encourage drivers to be extra observant, especially as the mornings and evenings get darker. Be ready to take appropriate avoiding action if you come across a deer on the road ahead.

Deer seem to work on the same time as humans too.

Periods of highest deer activity tend to occur at dawn and dusk, coinciding with the morning and evening rush hour and increasing collision risks in areas where deer are common. With the breeding season lasting into November the risks only tend to increase as the days get shorter too.

Obviously this isn't as much of an issue for those of you spending their commutes driving around town, but if you live in an area that does support a wild deer population it's worth being a little extra vigilant.

With that in mind, GEM is offering six simple tips for drivers to reduce risk from deer collisions:

  • Take note of deer warning signs. These are placed in locations where wild animal crossings are likely, so keep your speed down and be ready to encounter a deer at very short notice.
  • Be particularly watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are most active.
  • If you spot one animal, it's likely there may be others following, so don't speed up and assume the danger has passed.
  • Remember the importance of always being able to stop – on your side of the road – in the distance you can see to be clear ahead. But also, be ready to react if a deer leaps out right in front of you
  • Ideally we want to avoid any sort of collision but swerving to avoid a deer could prove a very dangerous action if it leads to a collision with another vehicle.
  • If you hit a deer, stop somewhere safe and report the collision to the police, who can organise professional veterinary assistance

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