Motorists urged to beware of migrating deer

Motorists are being warned to keep an eye out for deer crossing the road as the animals seek out new territories.

The warning was prompted after five deer were found dead in one area close to the A35 in Dorset recently. It is estimated that up to 74,000 deer are killed in the UK every year after being hit by vehicles.

Figures collected by Highways England, the government organisation responsible for motorways and major A-roads, suggest that 400 injuries could be caused by collisions with deer each year, with as many as 20 fatalities also down to vehicles hitting deer.

Deer collisions spike at this time of year as the animals seek out new places to inhabit, with the hours between sunset and midnight and around sunrise being the most hazardous.

Leonardo Gubert, senior ecologist at Highways England, said: “Sadly, the outcome of a collision involving a deer can be much more catastrophic than vehicle damage or injury to the animal.

“You may be well-travelled and on a well-known route without a previous sighting, but there may be deer hidden in nearby foliage or woodlands and some species of deer can gather in large groups; you may have seen one and avoided it but others may follow and unexpectedly dart out into the roadway.”

Highways England has teamed up with The Deer Initiative to offer advice to drivers. This includes being extra alert when driving in wooded areas, keeping an eye out for more deer whenever you spot one, and trying to stop as far from an animal as it is safe to do so to enable it to leave the road without panic.

It also suggests going from full beam to dipped beam if you see a deer, as the bright headlights can cause them to freeze where they are.

However, should you hit a deer, it is recommended that you stop in a safe spot and put on your hazard warning lights before calling the police. An ambulance should only be called if a human is injured in the incident.