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Deer collisions on the road

Avoid deer accidents

Twice every year, in May–June and then in October–November, you need to be aware of the risk of deer running into the road. This is during the rutting seasons, the time of year when young deer disperse from their breeding areas.

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.

Deer accidents in numbers
  • From April to June, on higher-speed major roads, 52% of deer-vehicle collisions happen on motorways and 48% on trunk A roads.
  • In 38 English local authorities, from 1999 to 2010, there were 1,605 deer-related accidents leading to human injury, according to a study published by the Deer Initiative and Highways Agency in December 2011.
  • Department for Transport statistics for 2009 to 2011 show that reported road accidents involving animals (not including ridden horses) in the road run at around 850 a year. The most recent figures reveal that, of the 851 incidents in 2011, 51% happen in daylight. Of the 416 that occurred during darkness, 28.4% were on roads with street lights on and 70.0% on roads without.
  • Between 40,000 and 75,000 deer are killed in collisions on the roads every year, causing losses of £11 million in damage to vehicles.

Edmund King, AA President, said: "These are worrying figures both in terms of road safety and animal welfare. Hitting a deer presents a greater risk to motorists compared to other road kill incidents because of the large size of the animal. Drivers should be extra vigilant where there are deer warning signs and slow down. Many additional accidents are caused by the tendency of drivers to over-react and swerve excessively."


10 tips about deer

If you understand a little about deer, then you can change your driving to avoid them, and know what to do if you hit and injure one.

  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' warning signs tell you that deer accidents happen in that area.
  5. A deer can appear almost instantly – nature has made them hard to see.
  6. Use high beam headlights 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.



National deer-vehicle collisions project

The Deer Initiative is doing a study of the extent of minor as well as major traffic accidents involving deer.

Information is being sought from those involved in the management of deers, wildlife rescue and ecological surveying, as well as from individual members of the public.

If you have information on a deer road casualty or deer related traffic collision, you can report it via the project website.


(Page updated 15 October 2013)