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Record High Deer Population a Peril to Motorists

The Highways Agency states that deer are at nearly ‘insupportable levels’ in some areas, predominantly in South East England.

Each year in Britain there is up to 74,000 vehicle accidents involving deer. Around 10 to 20 people are killed and 700 injured every year, either from direct collisions or from swerving out the way of deer. Insurers pay out around £17m to repair vehicles and the cost of medical expenses is estimated to be 3 times as much.

The chance of being involved in a collision is higher than ever due to the number of wild deer in the UK. Research within the last few years has projected the deer population in the UK anywhere between 1.5 million to 2 million. With no natural predators deer numbers has soared to its highest since the Ice age and some experts are calling for cull of up to 50% to 60% of the entire population.

Statistics from The Deer Initiative show that deer-vehicle collisions rose from the years 2003 to 2010. As shown, the south of England has the highest frequency of collisions, with Hampshire having the highest number of incidents. There has also been a significant increase of collisions in Northern England which has gone hand in hand with the spread of deer populations in the region.

The chance of encountering deer on the road not exclusive to rural areas. A quarter of all collisions occur within a 50 mile radius of central London. A study by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species claims that the 2ft tall muntjac deer is appearing in urban areas to rummage for food in dustbins, as a species alone they could be causing £10m a year in damage and injury.

Accidents peak during two points of the year. The feeding season is the highest period for collisions from April to June, followed by the mating season from October to January. Deer are more active during this periods, and as a result they often attempt to traverse roads.

The mating season, or rutting season, usually results in the severest incidents. This is because it often involves the larger male deer; pumped up on testosterone they travel further and are much more reckless when it comes to crossing roads.

How to avoid an accident

  • Currently THINK! is running a campaign to encourage safer driving on country roads; as they say, the national speed limit of 60mph is not a target and special considerations need to be made when driving on different roads.
  • Remember that deer travel in herds. If you see just one deer take extra precaution as it is likely that there will be more close by.
  • Deer collisions are most common during rush hours due to the volume of traffic and because deer are most active at dawn and dusk, when they feel it is safer to venture out to feed.
  • Use full beam headlights on dark roads, however if you see a deer on the road these need to dimmed as the deer will only freeze in terror.
  • Unless you are a motorcyclist do not swerve out the way to avoid a deer, as you could cause a more catastrophic accident. Also, if you avoid the deer and hit another motorist it may be difficult to prove the deer was actually there – something you may want to consider to prevent a claim on your insurance from a third party.
  • Remember the times which deer are most active. The months of April to June and October to January present the highest risk during the year. Deer will wander onto roads at dawn and dusk.

After a Deer Collision

  • Do not approach the animal; even if it is injured it could still be dangerous.
  • Contact the police. If it is a domestic animal it is mandatory requirement to contact the police. the will hold a list of local vets
  • The RSPCA has a 24 hour advice line if a deer is injured: 0300 1234 999. (In Scotland call the Scottish SPCA – 03000 999 999).
  • Contact your insurers and take pictures at the scene to help your case. If you make a claim after hitting a wild animal unfortunately you will lose your no claims bonus. However if the animal is owned then the owner of the animal is liable for your costs.

A deer collision can be a traumatic experience. Therefore it is important that you have an insurance provider than can offer a stress-free service when you need to make a claim.

Call Wiser provides motor insurance that you can trust. We work with the top insurers in the UK to find the best policy that suits your needs.

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