Sep 22 2009 Steve Hughes
Unlikely autumn hazard can cost dear
A remarkable UK accident statistic is that an estimated 74,000 drivers a year crash in to deer that stray onto roads, with 80 per cent being in England.
The most dangerous times for this to happen are spring and autumn around dawn and dusk and now the Highways Agency has launched a timely DeerAware campaign.
The agency says that whilst most of the collisions occur on country roads there have been 1,000 reported cases on motorways and major roads in the last two years. There are estimated to be more than one and a half million wild deer in the UK.
Wildlife scientist Professor David Macdonald, says: ``It's not just that the number of deer is increasing. Drivers need to slow down and watch out, particularly when deer are more active in autumn and spring. This autumn there is likely to be another rise in deer-vehicle collisions."
Highways Agency, senior environmental principal Tony Sangwine, adds: ``Deer are highly unpredictable and can suddenly appear on the road, particularly at dusk and dawn. We are encouraging local road safety partnerships and others to use the DeerAware material to target drivers in the highest risk areas.
``If you collide with a deer and someone may be injured, you should treat this as an emergency and ring 999 for the police or ambulance services immediately, or use an Emergency Roadside Telephone if there is one available.''
RSPCA wildlife scientist Colin Booty adds: "This is probably the biggest welfare issue affecting our wild deer. As well as the deer that are killed, over 10,000 are severely injured every year when hit by vehicles. The RSPCA alone receives over 3,000 calls annually regarding such accidents.
"With 1.5 million deer resident in the UK the chance of hitting one is significant - as is the risk of being injured or killed as a result.''
The advice to drivers is:
To report any injured deer to the RSPCA ring 0300 1234 999.