17 May, 2018
High risk of deer on roads in May and June
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is warning motorists to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on the road, especially in May and June.
Vehicle accidents involving deer peak at this time of year as young deer disperse to look for their own territories. To help reduce the risk of accidents SNH has arranged with Transport Scotland for warning messages on variable messaging signs on high-risk trunk roads across Scotland from Monday 21 May to Monday 11 June.
The VMS messages are targeted on roads with higher rates of deer-vehicle collisions, covering the Central Belt around Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as around Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and areas within Perth and Kinross. The signs display the warning message: High Risk of Deer on the Road.
The highest number of collisions occur in early evening through to late at night, with a slightly lower peak from 6 am to 9 am. The VMS campaign ensures that the warning messages are used during these times.
The most recent deer-vehicle collisions research shows there are up to 9,000 collisions between motor vehicles and deer every year in Scotland, with on average of 65 of these likely to result in human injuries. 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.
Dr. Jochen Langbein, deer collision consultant to SNH, said: “In Scotland, as in many other European countries, wild deer numbers have increased significantly over recent years. Roe deer in particular are spreading into parks and other green spaces close to the centre of cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.
“Late spring is when we often see more deer moving across motorways and other main roads, especially as young roe deer leave the areas in which they were born and look for new territories.”
Jamie Hammond, SNH Deer Management Officer, said: “It’s always important to be on the lookout for deer when driving, but we must be especially vigilant this time of year. The risk is higher from dusk through to early morning when deer are more active.
“We advise motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing roads. Be alert if you’re driving near woods, where deer can suddenly appear and dart onto roads with no warning. If you do hit a deer, report it to the police even if you’re uninjured, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering.”
Angus Corby, Landscape Advisor for Transport Scotland, said: “Wild deer present a significant challenge for the management of Scotland’s trunk road network – Transport Scotland is keen to promote the rich diversity of our native wildlife utilising the habitat of the road corridors but we also need to ensure the safe operation of the network for road users.
“The use of targeted Variable Message Signs (VMS), especially during the spring dispersal period and when not required for operational purposes, can be an effective means to help warn drivers about the potential for deer crossing the roads, and Transport Scotland is happy to work with SNH and other specialists to manage this initiative.”
Driving tips to avoid deer include:
- Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse.
- Only brake 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.
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- SNH Media
Notes to editors
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot. SNH is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nature_scot
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