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The Community Radio Station covering Central-Southern Dorset, run by volunteers and not-for-profit

Motorists urged to be deer aware

Drivers in Dorset are reminded of the precautions to take on the county’s roads where deer may be present.

With between 42,000 and 74,000 deer-related collisions in the UK every year, Dorset Council is sharing advice from the British Deer Society on how to be deer aware and keep safe.

Deer can be encountered in the county throughout the year, and many drivers have noticed an increased number close to roads in recent months due to flooded fields.

In April and May, when the birthing season is in full swing, the number of the animals on the road can increase further. The danger of collisions also increases in October with deer on the move for the autumn mating season.

Warning signs are displayed around the Dorset Council area where deer are prominent and there is a particular history of deer collisions. There are also steps motorists should take to help ensure the safety of themselves and others where deer stray on to the road.

Jack Wiltshire, Head of Highways, said: “It goes without saying that motorists should drive carefully and considerately wherever they are in Dorset, but this is a reminder that they should take extra when deer are more likely to be around.

“Deer are often unpredictable and travel in groups so if you’ve seen one and avoided it, another could follow.

“Stay vigilant, drive with care and be prepared for deer, especially when they are more mobile.

“Follow the British Deer Society advice to keep safe and be deer aware in Dorset.”

Beware during peak danger periods: Highest risk times are between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

Drive with caution: During peak danger periods, or on roads where hitting a deer is a possibility, drive with caution and be on the lookout for deer near the road.

Seen one? Look for another: Be aware that more deer may well follow the one you have noticed.

Use your lights: After dark, do use full-beam when there is no opposing traffic. BUT, when a deer or other animal is noted on the road, dim your headlights as animals startled by the beam may ‘freeze’ rather than leaving the road.

Don’t veer for deer: Don’t over-swerve to avoid hitting a deer

If a collision with the animal is inevitable, then hitting it while maintaining full control of your car is the safest option. The alternative of swerving into oncoming traffic or off the road surface could be a lot worse. Motorcyclists are at particular risk when in direct collisions with animals.

Look out for traffic behind you: Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic, and use your hazard lights.

Stay safe and report the incident

If you see an injured deer on the roadside:

  • Pull over at a safe place
  • Call the Police, giving as precise a location as you can, they have access to specialists who can attend the scene
  • Do not try to assist or move the deer as this can put you in danger.

If you hit a deer while driving, your priorities, in this order, are:

  • Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can
  • Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on
  • Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it
  • Call the Police

If the deer is alive and still visible at roadside:

  • It is best not to approach it. Doing so may cause it to run across traffic causing another accident.
  • Do not move or handle live deer, this needs a trained specialist.
  • Call the Police

Find out more at bds.org.uk

Data from the British Deer Society

Deer