Motorists in Dorset are being warned to take precautions on the county’s roads where deer may be present.

Dorset Council is sharing advice from the British Deer Society on how to be aware of animals after it was reported that between 42,000 to 74,000 deer-related collisions are reported in the country every year.

Deer can be encountered in the county throughout the year and many a spokesperson from the council said that ‘many drivers’ have noticed an increased number of the species close to roads in recent months due to flooded fields.

The spokesperson added that in the birthing season between April to May, the animals by the road can increase further. A danger of further collisions also increases in October during the Autumn mating season.

Warning signs are displayed around Dorset Council areas where deer are more prominent as well as areas with a particular history in deer collisions.

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.”

The advice from the British Deer Society for motorists to be aware of: 

Beware during peak danger periods: The 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. However, 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

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