This year to date, it’s been estimated there have been up to 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents in the UK alone, resulting in 700 human injuries and 20 deaths.1 In a recent survey conducted by Marmalade, almost one in five2 respondents said they have hit an animal whilst driving.

Brandon Radford, a young driver from Bishop’s Stortford shared his deer hitting incident: “I was driving back after a date in Cambridge, it must have been around 11 o’clock at night. The drive wasn’t too bad apart from it being fairly foggy. As we went off the A120 and onto the slip road, the lights revealed a fully-grown deer running towards the car. It must have been five meters away maximum, which didn’t give me much time to react.

I tried to swerve away but that led to almost going into another car. Within a few seconds I had hit the deer and it went under the car, causing it to turn over and slide off the road and into a ditch. I was left sitting sideways in the car listing to some terrible music my date had left on. Luckily someone had seen what had happened and called an ambulance.

We were not allowed to leave until we were checked out by the doctors and unfortunately this was where I was destined to meet my date’s mother for the first time… This was easily the most awkward encounter of my life! My date went to the hospital as she had bumped her head on the window and I ended up with some serious damage to my collar bone. Shortly after I had to say goodbye to my faithful car that was written off after the crash and, unsurprisingly I never went on another date with that girl again”.

Crispin Moger, CEO at Marmalade said: “For many young drivers this season could be their first experience driving in long periods of low light or darkness and testing weather conditions. Deer movement coincides with key commuting hours, meaning they can suddenly appear on the road when heavily populated with cars.     

Remaining vigilant and being aware of what to do in case you encounter a deer is a skill which is not taught or discussed during driving lessons. However, it’s important that all young drivers are aware of this issue, so they can fulfil their journeys safely and without incident.”

The UK is home to two million deer and during October and December the animals are on the move for mating season or “the rut”. Reduced day light hours following the end of British Summer Time (BST) mean more cars are on the roads when deer are active at dawn and dusk. The national figures related to deer incidents have been on the rise for the past ten years and are set to continue to grow according to deer experts.3

Here are our top tips for deer safety:

·         When travelling through woodland or forested stretches of road, remain extra alert. Many are marked with deer warning signs, so check speed and drive with caution.

·         Dip full beamed headlights if in the vicinity of a deer as it may become startled and freeze.

·         If a deer is ahead, be prepared to switch on hazard lights and stop. Swerving into oncoming traffic is likely to cause a larger accident.

·         Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, there may be more that follow, so continue with caution and keep this in mind.

·         Once a deer has been injured it can be aggressive and dangerous. Instead of approaching, call the police who can direct your call to the relevant team.

·         Check if there are any deer hotspots in your area by going to The Deer Initiative website.

Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, said: “The one time you might experience a close encounter with a deer is when you are behind the wheel, especially during the rutting season when their increased activity could bring them out onto the roads. Slowing down will give you more time to brake if an animal darts out into the road without warning.”

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