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24 October, 2014

Clock change increases deer risk on roads

As the clocks turn back this weekend, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is warning motorists that the risk of collisions between deer and vehicles increase in certain parts of Scotland.

Car accidents involving deer peak at this time of year. With night falling earlier, the peak commuting time coincides with deer coming out to feed on grass verges near roadsides.

Because of this, SNH, in conjunction with Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland, are placing warning messages on electronic variable messaging signs. From the evening of Sunday, 26 October to Monday, 17 November, the signs will warn motorists at key locations on the main trunk roads across West and Northwest Scotland. These messages will be seen on signs on the A9, A87, A82, A85 and the A835.

The most recent deer-vehicle collisions research shows there are more than 7000 collisions between motor vehicles and deer every year in Scotland, with an average of 65 of these resulting in human injuries. The combined economic value of these accidents, through human injuries and significant damage to vehicles is £7 million. Across the UK, it’s estimated there are between 42,000 and 74,000 deer-vehicle related accidents a year, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and about 15 deaths, with an annual cost approaching £47m.

Many people think most incidents with deer occur on more remote Highland roads, but in fact up to 70 percent occur on trunk roads or motorways. In addition, 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.

Sinclair Coghill, SNH deer management officer, said:

"From October to December, there is a higher risk of deer on the road as deer move down to lower lying ground for forage and shelter, with the highest risk from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise.

"We advise motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing roads. Be particularly alert if you're driving near woods 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 or oncoming 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.
  • Be aware that more deer may cross after the one or two you first see, as deer often travel in groups.
  • 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.

ENDS

Media queries
- contact SNH media & public relations officer, Vicki Mowat, on 0131 316 2659 or vicki.mowat@snh.gov.uk (Tues to Fri) or the Inverness press office on 01463 725 022 (Mon).

Notes to editors

The Deer Vehicle Collisions Project is attempting to build a full picture of deer-related motor vehicle accidents in the UK. For more information, see www.deercollisions.co.uk. Detail on how figures were determined is available in reports at http://www.deercollisions.co.uk/pages/latest.html

Contact information

Name
SNH Media
Email
snhmedia@snh.gov.uk

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

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