Sussex drivers are being warned to take extra care in areas where deer are common in the next few weeks.
Road saefty organisation GEM Motoring Assist is advising that deer are more mobile than usual during the breeding season, bringing them onto roads and increasing the risk of collisions.
Estimates indicate that up to 75,000 deer are killed each year in road collisions.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “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.
“Periods of highest deer activity tend to occur at dawn and dusk, coinciding with the morning and evening rush hour, increasing collision risks in areas where deer are common.”
Experts believe the UK deer population numbers more than two million, and research from the RSPCA 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 offers 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.