Beware of deer while driving

Wild stag stands in parkland facing camera, day.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

Over 2 million wild deer live in Britain, so drivers need to be alert. Find out which signs to look out for, and what to do if you find one in the road.

As we’ve blogged recently about safe driving on country roads, we thought it would be a good idea to follow up with a subject that deserves a post all of its own. Yes, it’s time to talk about deer.

We all like to see these beautiful beasts roaming distant fields or grazing in the park, but sometimes they can get a bit too close, running into the road and causing problems for us drivers. It’s not a rare thing, either: between 40,000 and 70,000 deer are killed in collisions on our roads every year, leading to £11 million worth of damage to vehicles.

Over 2 million wild deer live in Britain, so drivers need to know what to do when they’re driving through parts of the country where there's a high risk of collision. 

Read the signs

It might sound obvious, but the first thing to do is to pay attention to this sign

Beware of deer road sign

If you see this sign, you’ll know that there are deer around and you should keep your speed down.

If you’re driving at dawn or dusk at certain times of the year (particularly in May and from October through to January) then the deer are more active and the level of risk is heightened. Take extra care and do not be tempted to speed up just to pass through the area more quickly.

On the hoof

So what should you do if you come across a deer in the road? Well, the first thing is, do not panic. If the deer is in the distance and you’re travelling at an appropriate speed, it’s likely to run into the nearest gap in the verge. But if the deer suddenly appears in front of you, try to continue steering in the direction you’re going. A sudden swerve could destabilise your vehicle and increase the chances of you losing control. Hopefully the deer will move out of your way as quickly as it appeared.

If you’re unlucky enough to hit a deer, then stop somewhere safe as soon as you can. You’re not legally required to report collisions with wild animals to the police but, if you do, they can get in touch with a local vet or animal welfare organisation, who’ll be able to help if the deer is injured.

OK, that’s the end of the ‘does’ and don’ts (sorry!). If you’d like to know more, then check out The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills for more top tips and essential information.

You can also find out more by visiting the Deer Aware website.

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