Motorists warned to watch out for deer

13/08/07, TSPL, SCOTSMAN, WILD LIFE, CAPREOLUS CAPREOLUS, DEER, ROE DEER BENEATH A ROWAN TREE NEAR NEWBURGH FIFE.PICTURE  IAN RUTHERFORD.
13/08/07, TSPL, SCOTSMAN, WILD LIFE, CAPREOLUS CAPREOLUS, DEER, ROE DEER BENEATH A ROWAN TREE NEAR NEWBURGH FIFE.PICTURE IAN RUTHERFORD.

MOTORISTS are being warned to slow down to avoid collisions with deer in the district.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) says that May is historically a time of more accidents as the lighter nights mean younger deer are more active.

Sinclair Coghill, SNH wildlife management officer, said: “Vehicle accidents involving deer peak at this time of year, as yearling animals disperse, looking for their own territories. Because of this, SNH, in conjunction with Transport Scotland, are placing warning messages on variable messaging signs on high-risk trunk roads across Scotland from Monday, April 29 until Friday May 31”.

The signs are targeted on roads with higher rates of deer-vehicle collisions, such as the main roads out of East Dunbartonshire into Stirlingshire and other areas around the Central Belt.

In the most recent deer-vehicle collisions, research shows there are more than 7000 collisions between motor vehicles and deer every year in Scotland, with an average of 65 of these resulting in human injuries. The combined economic value of these accidents, through human injuries and significant damage to vehicles is £7 million.

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.

Dr Jochen Langbein of the Deer Initiative, said: “The fact that only around one-fifth of all UK deer-vehicle collisions occur in Scotland doesn’t mean the risk to drivers here is any lower. On the contrary, the risk of deer collisions per driven mile is actually greater in Scotland, as total traffic volumes in England are nine times higher than in Scotland.”

And Ms. Coghill added: “We’d ask motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing in front of traffic. 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.”

Other tips drivers should take include: Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse.

Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following 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.

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.