Friday, October 05, 2007

RESEARCH NEWS: Deer-Vehicle Colisions Not Just a North American Problem

Motorists are being asked to slow down and look out for deer on the roads this autumn as a new report* reveals the terrible number hurt and killed by vehicles.

The report highlights the increasing number of deer killed and maimed on our roads each year and has brought to light the following facts which should convince people driving on country roads to take their foot off the gas:
As many as 60,000 deer are thought to be hit by cars a year in England · Thousands of deer are not killed outright and suffer greatly from their injuries, making collisions probably the most significant welfare issue for wild deer · It is estimated that people are hurt in 700 of these accidents a year, and up to 15 drivers or passengers killed · These accidents damage some 11,000 vehicles, causing some £14million of damage in England. This estimate rises to £17million if commercial vehicles are included · Vehicles are thought to kill as much as 13 per cent of the fallow deer population each year.

The period between October and January sees a peak in collisions between deer and cars as many deer are rutting and are most likely to be on the move. Shortening days also mean that peak traffic flows may coincide with deer movements at dawn and dusk, adding to the danger of road traffic accidents.

RSPCA wildlife scientist Colin Booty said: "This report shows the sheer number of deer killed or maimed on our roads every year. These accidents are not only deadly for deer but can be extremely dangerous for drivers and passengers too.

"Motorists can help to reduce the death-toll by slowing down when they see warning signs and being ready to brake if they see deer, especially at dusk or dawn.

"It is especially important at this time of year when deer are rutting and are on the move and are likely to wander onto the roads."

The number of calls the RSPCA receives about deer involved in road traffic accidents is increasing. The Society took 2,862 calls last year compared to 1,754 in 2000.

Accident blackspots revealed in the report:

The A22 near the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex is the most dangerous road in the country for deer, with more than 10 collisions a year per kilometre of road, while Hampshire has the highest number of deer collisions of any county.

The report reveals a number of other accident blackspots listed below:
Cannock Chase in Staffordshire
Dinmore Hill in Herefordshire
Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire
The Mendips in Somerset
Halden Hill in Devon
The New Forest in Hampshire
the Southampton to Portsmouth area
Epping Forest in Essex
Ashridge Woods in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire · Thetford Forest in Norfolk.

The following roads have the most accidents involving deer:
A14 which runs through Suffolk and Cambridgeshire · M3 which connects Southampton and London · A303 which runs between Hampshire and Devon · A30 which runs between London and Cornwall · A11 which connects London and Norwich · M4 which links London with Wales · M27 in Hampshire · A34 between Salford and Winchester · A4136 near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire · A4146 in Buckinghamshire · B4506 in Bedfordshire · B1106 in Norfolk · B2188 in East Sussex · B2026 in Kent · B1393 in Essex.

Advice for drivers to reduce risk of deer vehicle collisions:

Please take note of deer warning signs - they are positioned only where animals are known to cross the road.
Peaks in deer-related traffic collisions occur from October through December and in May. The highest risk periods are from sunset to midnight followed by the hours shortly before and after sunrise. Be particularly vigilant at these times.
Be aware that further deer may well cross after the ones you have noticed, as they tend to congregate in herds.
After dark, do use full-beams when there is no opposing traffic. The headlight beam will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater driver reaction time. But when a deer or other animal is noted on the road, dim your headlights as animals startled by the full-beam may ‘freeze’ rather than leaving the road.
Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to a stop as far in front of the animals as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic.
Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police (who should be able to contact the local person best placed to assist with an injured deer at the roadside).

Notes to editors:

For pictures or more information on the figures contact the RSPCA Press Office by calling 0300 123 0244. (Anyone who experiences any difficulties using this number can call 0870 754 0244.) · The report called the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project was produced by The Deer Initiative, of which the RSPCA is a member. The RSPCA was the biggest contributors of data to the project on deer vehicle collisions in England and Wales.
Visit for more information, or to log any sightings of deer collisions to help identify any accident blackspots.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
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