The coming weeks will see a significant rise in the risk of collisions with deer on Irish and UK roads, warns road safety organisation Gem Motoring Assist. This is the time of year when deer will be breeding, a process which makes them more mobile and brings many more of them onto the roads, says Gem.
Estimates indicate that up to 75,000 deer are killed in collisions each year on roads in the UK alone. The human death toll there from deer collisions ranges between 10 and 20 annually, with more than 400 injuries, and industry estimates put the cost of damage to vehicles alone to be at least £17 million.
Gem road safety officer Neil Worth says it is at dawn and dusk when deer movements appear to peak.
“We urge drivers to be on the look-out at all times, but to be particularly observant in the early mornings and early evenings,” he says. “And it’s important to expect deer not just on rural lanes, but also on suburban roads, main roads and motorways.”
“If you know your route takes you through areas where there are deer, then expect to see one – or more than one – on your journey. In that way, the presence of a deer on the road ahead will be less of a surprise and you will hopefully be able to avoid a collision.
“Take note of deer warning signs, as they have been placed at locations where wild animal crossings are common. Once you have spotted a deer on the road, don’t speed up and assume the risk has passed. Chances are that there will be other deer close by, all likely to be heading the same way.
“You may have only a very short reaction time available in a situation like this. But don't swerve too hard to avoid hitting a deer. 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.
“Finally, if you hit a deer, stop somewhere safe and report the collision to the police, who can organise professional veterinary assistance."