National Highways and the British Deer Society have warned drivers to be extra vigilant for deer on or near roads now that the clocks have gone back.

From October to December, poorer driving conditions and fewer hours of daylight, coupled with the annual breeding season for red, sika and fallow deer make this a high-risk time of year.

Research by the DeerAware campaign has also found that the risk increases after the clock change at the end of October because drivers find themselves more likely to be on the road when deer are most active from sunset to midnight and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

The following tips have been issued to drivers:

  • When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, 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’ on the spot instead of leaving the road
  • If you see a deer, look for another. They often gather in herds and follow each other as they move through the landscape.
  • Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic, use your hazard lights. Try to come to a stop as far away from an animal as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could lead to a more serious collision.
  • If you must stop, use your hazard warning lights

Drivers who find themselves involved in a collision are advised to:

  • Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can.
  • Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on. Consider using it to also warn other road users.
  • Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it.
  • Call the police.
  • The police can also contact specialists to deal with injured deer. Never try to move deer off the road yourself as this will put you at great risk of injury.