It has been a challenging year, but as we approach the end of 2020, Highways England and The British Deer Society are urging drivers not to close the year with a deer vehicle collision.
Although deer can be encountered on our roads throughout the year, the risk of a collision dramatically increases between October and December and again in May. This occurs alongside seasonal changes in deer behaviour, causing deer to be on the move.
With quieter roads due to lockdown restrictions, drivers may be tempted to speed and this coupled with fewer daylight hours and poor weather conditions, make the current risk to drivers even higher this year.
The high-risk times are from sunset to midnight and the hours shortly before and after sunrise when deer are most active. Drivers should also keep an eye out for warning signs that will alert them to hotspot areas where animal crossings are very likely. Deer will also often move in groups so if you spot one, get ready for more.
What Should Drivers Do?
Reducing driver risk is vital, as this will give you more time to react to ensure the best outcome for you and the deer. We call this DRIVING DEER AWARE and it follows some simple tips:
- Slow down– this gives you more time to react
This is essential at high-risk times and/or hotspot areas.
- Use your lights effectively
After dark, do use full-beam when there is no opposing traffic. The headlight beam will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater driver reaction time. BUT, when a deer or other animal is noted on the road, dim your headlights as animals startled by the beam may ‘freeze’ rather than leave the road.
- Don’t Veer for Deer
Don't over-swerve to avoid hitting a deer, if a collision with the animal seems inevitable, then hit it whilst maintaining full control of your vehicle. The alternative of swerving into oncoming traffic or off the road could be even worse. Motorcyclists are at particular risk when in direct collisions with animals.
- Think about other traffic
Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Use your hazard lights to warn other drivers and try to come to a stop as far away from the animal as possible, to enable it to leave the roadside without panic. If you need to exit your vehicle, watch out for other traffic.
Stuart Lovatt, Strategic Road Safety Manager at Highways England, said:
“We want drivers to know what to do when they come across a deer or what to do in that unfortunate situation if you hit an animal. We take steps to try and reduce the risk of collisions with wildlife on England’s motorways and major A-roads, however, we still see a significant number of deer strikes every year. Our advice is for drivers to slow down and be aware of the potential for unexpected wildlife on the road!.”
For tips on how to check your vehicles is roadworthy, visit: https://www.think.gov.uk/campaign/vehicle-safety-checks/
David McAuley, CEO at The British Deer Society, said:
“As we approach the peak Christmas travel period, we would like to remind everyone to be vigilant and to be aware that deer are about and could be encountered. To ensure you have a safe journey and are asking drivers and motorcyclists to drive to the road conditions and be ‘deer aware’ especially in the evenings and at night. We have seen a significant increase in deer related accidents this year so please be vigilant, drive carefully and think deer! Have a safe Christmas and New year.”
Deer vehicle collisions cause substantial damage to vehicles and numerous human injuries, as well as several human fatalities each year. Please don’t let it happen to you!
For more information visit: www.deeraware.com