Campaign warns drivers to beware deer as clocks go back for winter
A NEW campaign being launched today warns drivers that the changing of the clocks at the weekend heralds the most dangerous time of year for crashes involving deer.
The annual switch back marking the onset of winter brings growing darkness at peak commuting times, which coincide with the animals coming out and crossing roads to feed on grass verges.
Latest statistics show that accidents involving deer have risen to around 7,000 per year across Scotland, resulting in some 70 people being injured on average and costing the nation £5 million annually.
Starting today, electronic signs will flash warnings at drivers passing through key danger spots on the main trunk roads across the west and northwest of the country.
The warnings, co-ordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) working with Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland, will be featured on signs along the A9, A87, A82 and the A835.
While many people think most accidents involving deer occur on remote Highland roads, figures show that up to 70 per cent take place on busy trunk roads or motorways.
When the relative amount of traffic on such roads is taken into account, drivers in Scotland are estimated to be about twice as likely “per mile driven” to have an accident with a deer than those in England, according to the Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project.
Sinclair Coghill, SNH deer management officer, said: “Car accidents involving deer peak at this time of year, as our clocks turn back. With the nights starting earlier, the peak commuting time coincides with deer coming out to feed on grass verges near roadsides.
“We advise motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing in front of traffic. Be particularly alert if you’re driving near woods, where deer can suddenly appear before you have time to brake. If you do hit a deer, report it to the police, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering.”
Across the UK, it is estimated that there could be as many as 74,000 deer-related car accidents every year, resulting in about 20 people being killed, and up to 700 people suffering injuries.
The overall cost across the UK of dealing with accidents, including callouts to clear roads of carcasses, is thought to be more than £17m.
There is no central system for collating data on road traffic accidents involving deer or other wildlife in the UK.
The Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project is working on improving information, while SNH has set up a Deer-Vehicle Collisions monitoring project to assess the situation in Scotland.
The latest report from the project revealed growing numbers of accidents as the numbers of cars and deer both increase. In 2003, the number of deer carcasses that had to be removed from main roads in Scotland was under 200. By 2010, it was nearing 700.
To reduce the number of accidents, drivers are advised not to swerve or brake sharply and stop unless there is no danger of colliding with oncoming vehicles or being hit by traffic following behind.
Drivers are also reminded to keep headlights on full beam when there is no oncoming traffic to help them spot deer earlier, but to dim their lights if a deer or other animal is spotted on the road to avoid startling or blinding the creature.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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