The coming weeks will see a significant rise in the risk of collisions with deer, road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has warned.

This is the rutting season, the time of year when deer – particularly fallow and red deer – are breeding, which makes them more mobile and brings many more of them onto the roads. It’s at dawn and dusk when deer movements tend to peak.

Figures from the Deer Initiative indicate that between 42,000 and 74,000 deer are involved in collisions each year, leading to more than 450 injuries and up to 20 fatalities a year. Industry estimates put the cost of damage to vehicles alone to be at least £11 million.

“We urge drivers to be on the look-out at all times, but particularly in the early mornings and early evenings,” GEM Road Safety Officer Neil Worth said. “It’s important to expect deer not just on rural lanes, as it’s believed more than half of all deer strikes occur on motorways.

“If you know your route takes you through areas where there are deer, then expect individual animals – or larger groups – to be crossing the road ahead of you. Hopefully forewarned is forearmed, so if you do encounter deer crossing it will be less of a surprise and you will be better able to avoid a collision.”

  • First of all, take note of warning signs, as they have been placed at locations where wild animal crossings are common.
  • If you have seen a deer going across the road, don’t speed up and assume the risk has passed. Chances are there will be other deer close by, all likely to be crossing the same road.
  • You will only have a short reaction time. But don’t swerve too hard to avoid hitting a wild animal. If a collision with the animal seems inevitable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your car. The alternative of swerving into oncoming traffic or a ditch could be even worse.
  • If you hit and injure a deer, stop somewhere safe and report the collision to the police. If the deer remains on the road, dial 999 as there is an immediate risk of another collision. The police can also organise professional veterinary assistance.
  • If you have comprehensive insurance, you should be able to make a claim for any damage sustained, but check the small print of your policy first. Bear in mind that in making a claim you could lose your no claims bonus.

These days, it’s not only deer we should be looking out for. In some regions, such as the Forest of Dean, collisions with wild boar exceed those involving deer. Wild boar can also be found in Scotland Kent, East Sussex, Bedfordshire, Devon and Dorset. In fact, the UK is home to an estimated wild boar population of 2,600 or more.

Wild boar can reach 150kg in weight, meaning a collision could have severe consequences both for boar and vehicle. The animals can be seen in daylight hours but usually come out after dark, adding to the collision risk.