Signs on main roads will warn of the risk of deer collisions. Photo: SNH

Signs on main roads will warn of the risk of deer collisions. Photo: SNH

Outdoor enthusiasts driving in Scotland are being warned of the increased risk of hitting deer as the clocks go back.

Scottish Natural Heritage said after the end of British Summer Time on Sunday, peak traffic times will coincide with those when the animals are likely to be foraging on road verges.

There are more than 7,000 collisions between vehicles and deer each year in Scotland, and an average of 65 of these result in an injury to a person.

Taking traffic numbers into account, SNH said you are twice as likely to hit a deer in Scotland as in England.

The combined economic value of these accidents, through human injuries and significant damage to vehicles is £7m. 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.

The Scottish Government’s advisory body on the outdoors said many people think most incidents with deer occur on more remote Highland roads, but in fact up to 70 per cent occur on trunk roads or motorways.

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.”

Warning messages on electronic signs will appear on the main roads leading to popular hillwalking, mountain biking and mountaineering destinations. 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 north-west Scotland.

The messages will be seen on signs on the A9, A87, A82, A85 and the A835.

SNH’s tips 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 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.

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