Dark night warning over deer collisions

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As the clocks turn back, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is warning motorists that the risk of collisions between deer and vehicles increases.

Car accidents involving deer peak at this time of year - with night falling earlier, the peak commuting time coincides with deer coming out to feed on grass verges near roadsides.

Because of this, SNH, in conjunction with Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland, are placing warning messages on electronic variable messaging signs.

From Monday, October 28 to Monday, November 18, the signs will warn motorists at key locations on the main trunk roads across West and Northwest Scotland. These messages will be seen on signs on the A9, A87, A82 and the A835.

The most recent deer-vehicle collisions research indicates there are more than 7000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents every year in Scotland, on average causing about 70 human injuries.

The economic value of these accidents is near £5million.

Across the UK, it’s estimated there could be up to 74,000 collisions of vehicles with deer, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and up to 20 deaths.

The combined economic impact through injury accidents and significant damage to vehicles approaches £47m.

Many people think most incidents with deer occur on more remote Highland roads, but in fact up to 70 percent occur on trunk roads or motorways.

In addition, when traffic volume is taken into consideration, the risk of a collision with a deer is about twice as high per vehicle-mile driven in Scotland compared to England, according to the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project.

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.”