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Avoiding accidents involving deer

Twice every year, in May and then in October/November you need to be aware of the risk of Deer running into the road.

Between 40,000 and 75,000 deer are killed in collisions on the roads every year. These accidents kill car occupants too, as well as injuring hundreds and causing £11 million of damage to vehicles.

There are two peak times every year for deer accidents: the rutting season in October/November and May when young deer disperse from their breeding areas.
If you understand a little about deer then you can think about how you can change your driving to avoid them and know what to do if you hit and injure one.

Ten tips about deer

  1. Accidents involving deer peak in May, October and November.
  2. Worst times of day are around sunrise and between sunset and midnight.
  3. Some areas have bigger problems than others. Deer accident hotspots include the A134 in Thetford Forest, A22 in Ashdown Forest, B4506 in Ashridge Forest, A4136 in the Forest of Dean, and M27 between Southampton and Portsmouth
  4. ‘Deer’ or ‘wild animal’ signs warn you that deer accidents happen in that area.
  5. A deer can appear almost instantly – nature makes them hard to see and they don’t follow the green cross code!
  6. Use high beam head-lights when it’s dark, but dip them if you see a deer, otherwise it may freeze in your path. Don’t dazzle other drivers though.
  7. If a deer appears suddenly it’s safer to continue on your normal track rather than swerve or brake hard to try to avoid it. Sudden manoeuvres can result in a loss of control and increase the risk of hitting a tree or another vehicle.
  8. If you do hit a deer, try to stop somewhere safe. If you can’t then do your best to ensure that your accident isn’t hit by other vehicles.
  9. Report the accident to the police who will contact someone who can help the injured deer.
  10. Bear in mind that if you miss the deer (or any other animal), but hit something else, it will be very hard to prove that the deer ever existed.

(17 October 2011)

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