Press release

Motorists warned to watch for deer in mating season

Highways England and The Deer Initiative have joined forces to warn motorists about the heightened risk of collisions involving deer at this time of year.

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Across the UK it is estimated that there could be up to 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents this year alone, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and 20 deaths. The combined economic impact of injury accidents and car damage is likely to exceed £50 million a year.

October through to December is considered a high-risk period as deer will be on the move for the autumn mating season, also known as the rut. The highest risk of a deer-vehicle collision is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

Tony Sangwine, Senior Principal Environmental Adviser at Highways England said:

Our top priority is safety – that is why we are working with the Deer Initiative to warn motorists about these particular risks. Deer are highly active at this time of the year, meaning they can suddenly appear on the road, at both dawn and dusk.

With most deer movement coinciding with key commuting hours, we are urging drivers to be more aware so that they can complete their journeys on our roads safely and without incident.

Some 1.5million deer live wild in the UK. There are six main species.

Highways England’s advice to drivers is:

  • when you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, check your speed and stay alert
  • if your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer, as they may ‘freeze’
  • more deer may follow the first one you see
  • be prepared to stop; try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer, hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse
  • if you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights
  • do not approach an injured deer – it could be dangerous

If you need to report a deer vehicle collision or to find out more on safety advice please visit the Deer Aware website, which exists to offer basic advice on how to avoid a collision and to collect data on the number of accidents.

Our research is the only national effort to collect data that could be used to save lives - the information you submit is an essential part of this important effort.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 14 October 2016