Car accidents involving deer soar at this time of year as young roe deer search for their own territories, warns Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Deer-vehicle collisions often peak in late April to mid-May, as juvenile deer are out on their own for the first time. Because of this, SNH, in conjunction with Transport Scotland, are placing warning messages on variable messaging signs on high-risk trunk roads across Scotland from Sunday, May 1 to Sunday, May 15.
The signs are targeted on roads with higher rates of deer-vehicle collisions, such as the M90, A9, A90, M8, M77, A80, M80, A1 and A720, covering areas of the Central Belt around Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Cumbernauld, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen. Signs will warn motorists of the high risk of deer on road.
It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents every year in Scotland, on average causing about 70 human injuries. The economic value of these accidents is £5 million. Across the UK, it’s estimated there are between 42,000 and 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents a year, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and about 20 deaths, with a cost of over £17m.
Many people think most accidents with deer occur on remote Highland roads, but actually up to 70 percent occur on trunk roads or motorways. As well, when traffic volume is taken into consideration, the risk of a collision with a deer is about twice as high per vehicle-mile driven in Scotland compared to England, according to the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project.
Jamie Hammond, SNH Deer Management Officer, said: “The number of deer is increasing in some parts of Scotland, particularly in the Central Belt and around our towns and cities as more green space and woodlands are created. These provide ideal habitats for roe deer, leading to more accidents.
“Because of this, I’d advise drivers to be more aware than ever of the risks of deer on our roads. Many people think most accidents with deer occur on remote Highland roads, but more and more this is something we should be aware of around urban areas.
“At this time of the year, we’d caution motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing in front of traffic. Be particularly alert if you’re driving near to woodland areas where deer can suddenly appear before you have time to brake. If you do hit a deer, report it to the police, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering.”
Other tips include:
* Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse.
* Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to a stop as far away from the animals as possible to allow them to leave the roadside without panic, and use your hazard warning lights.
* After dark, use full-beams when there is no oncoming traffic, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and give you more time to react. But dim your headlights when you see a deer or other animal on the road so you don’t startle it.
* Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside. Do not approach an injured deer yourself – it may be dangerous.