UK Government

Highways Agency: Be DeerAware: The Deer Initiative and Highways Agency advise drivers to watch out for deer as autumn approaches

Press Release   •   Sep 24, 2010 14:40 BST

As autumn approaches, the Highways Agency and partners in The Deer Initiative are reminding drivers to watch out for deer, particularly at dawn and dusk.

Every year, people are killed or injured in road collisions with wild deer around England. The Highways Agency has recorded over 2,000 deer-vehicle collisions since January 2009 on the motorway and A-road network in England alone.

The periods of highest risk are autumn and spring, particularly around dawn and dusk. The Deer Initiative estimates that there could be up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year in the UK – around 80% of which are in England.  A key to reducing the number and severity of these incidents is to get drivers to be ‘DeerAware’ – to slow down and watch out when they see deer warning signs at the roadside.

Our advice to drivers is:

* When you see deer warning signs, check your speed and stay alert.

* If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer as they may ‘freeze’.

* More deer may follow the first one you see.

* Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. A collision with oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse.

* If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.

* Do not approach an injured deer – it could be dangerous.

* If you collide with a deer (or witness a collision) and someone may be injured, or if vehicles or deer in the road are a risk to road safety, then you should treat this as an emergency and ring 999 for the Police or Ambulance service immediately.  You can use an Emergency Roadside Telephone if one is available.

* To report any injured deer to the RSPCA please ring the 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.

Dr Jochen Langbein, project leader for the UK Deer Vehicle Collisions Project at the Deer Initiative, said:

“There are over 1.5 million wild deer and around 27 million private cars in Great Britain, and the population of deer is increasing. As days get shorter in the autumn, busy traffic times coincide with dawn and the early part of the night when deer are most active and hardest to spot. In wooded areas in particular, there may be very little warning before one or several deer bolt across.”

Tony Sangwine, senior environmental principal for the Highways Agency, said:

"Better data is helping the Highways Agency to focus on locations where we know there have been a higher number of collisions with deer so we can use preventative measures - such as warning signs, fencing, and advice to drivers - as effectively as possible.

“With the Deer Initiative we have just completed a pilot study looking at how to encourage deer and other wildlife use of existing footbridges or underpasses, as a cost-effective alternative to ‘green bridges’. But as well as this, we really need drivers to be ‘DeerAware’ – to watch out for deer at the roadside, and to be alert particularly when driving at dawn or dusk.”

Peter Watson, Director of the Deer Initiative, said:

“We are encouraging local road safety partnerships and other organisations to make use of the DeerAware material, including the posters and information on our website, to make drivers aware of the risk of a collision with deer.

“There are collision hotspots where there are high traffic volumes and high deer numbers, but drivers could be at risk of a collision across most parts of the country.”

Senior RSPCA scientist Adam Grogan said:

"Car accidents involving deer are more common as the number of deer increases.  Such accidents not only result in serious injuries or death for the deer, but they can also cause serious injuries - or worse - for the people involved as well.

"We really need drivers to slow down, take extra care and watch out for these animals - especially at this time of year.

"The RSPCA is encouraging the public to report any injured deer on our 24-hour cruelty and advice line, on 0300 1234 999."

Notes to editors

Issued by the Highways Agency National Press Office. For further information and interview requests please contact Alex Barnett on 020 7081 7443.

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. Highways Agency spokespeople are available for interview on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September, although interviews on other dates may also be possible. Please contact Alex Barnett on 020 7153 4847, or the Highways Agency 24/7 Press Office number – 020 7081 7443.

3. DeerAware is a campaign initiated by The Deer Initiative (including but not limited to partners the Highways Agency, the National Trust, the RSPCA, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the AA, the RAC, the British Deer Society, the Forestry Commission, and Roadsafe GB). The dedicated website,, provides useful information and background to the campaign.

4. Please see for further information on The Deer Initiative’s work, including reports, news, and downloads.

5. Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available:

-     From our Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet To tune into the DAB service, simply press the "scan" button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach "Traffic Radio".

-     From the web at or if using a phone or mobile device. Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.

- By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT residential landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

6. For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website, or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time.  Calls from landlines to 0300 and 08700 numbers can cost up to 8p per minute but are free from some landline providers: calls from mobiles usually cost more. Please check costs with your service provider.

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Issued by the Highways Agency National Press Office. For further information and interview requests please contact Alex Barnett on 020 7081 7443.


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