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Be Deeraware: the Deer Initiative and Highways Agency advise drivers to slow down and watch out for deer

Be Deeraware: the Deer Initiative and Highways Agency advise drivers to slow down and watch out for deer

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 22 September 2009


As autumn approaches, the Highways Agency and partners in The Deer Initiative are asking drivers to watch out for deer as part of a new campaign, DeerAware. Every year, people are killed or injured in road collisions with wild deer around England, and there have been over 1,000 deer-vehicle collisions recorded by the Highways Agency since September 2007 on the motorway and A-road network alone.

The Deer Initiative estimates that there are up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year in the UK – 80% in England. Most deer are killed, but thousands are left to die of injuries. Periods of highest risk are Autumn and Spring, and around dawn and dusk. A key to reducing the number and severity of these incidents is to get drivers to be "deer aware" – to slow down and watch out when they see deer signs.

In Richmond Park today [22 September], the Highways Agency and other partners in the Deer Initiative are holding an event to launch DeerAware – a programme to raise public awareness of the danger of wild deer on our roads, with the aim of improving safety for road users by changing driver behaviour and reducing the number of collisions. New publicity material is now available for regional road safety initiatives targeting local deer collision "hotspots".

The wildlife scientist Professor David Macdonald, Chair of the deer-vehicle awareness working group, said:

"It’s not just that the number of deer is increasing. We really need drivers to slow down and watch out, particularly when deer are more active - in autumn and spring, and at dawn and dusk. This autumn there is likely to be another rise in deer-vehicle collisions."

"Today’s event brings together the media and other partners who we hope will use the DeerAware material to tackle the worst hotspots. As is so often the case in wildlife conservation, the campaign will be beneficial not only for deer but for people too – the quest for such win-win outcomes is at the heart of modern conservation."

Tony Sangwine, senior environmental principal for the Highways Agency, said:

"The key is to be deer aware. Deer are highly unpredictable and can suddenly appear on the road – particularly at dusk and dawn, and in spring and autumn. We are encouraging local road safety partnerships and others to use the DeerAware material to target drivers in the highest risk areas."

Our advice to drivers is:

- When you see deer warning signs, 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’.

- More deer may follow the first one you see.

- Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse.

- If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.

- Do not approach an injured deer – it could be dangerous.

If you collide with a deer (or witness a collision) and someone may be injured, or the presence of vehicles/deer in the road are a risk to road safety, then you should treat this as an emergency and ring 999 for Police or Ambulance service immediately, or use an Emergency Roadside Telephone if there is one available.

To report any injured deer to the RSPCA please ring the 24-hour cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.

Jane Rabagliati, Chairman of the Deer Initiative Partnership, said:

"This is the culmination of over 6 years of work under our Deer-Vehicle Collisions Project, led by Dr Jochen Langbein. The Deer Initiative Partners have given tremendous support – the Highways Agency continue to fund the project, and the RSPCA, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission among others have been crucial to the research and efforts to deal with the problem. Collisions with deer are on the increase, and we have identified some of the worst locations. DeerAware is about changing driver behaviour – if you slow down and watch out, you have a good chance of preventing a potentially fatal collision. "

RSPCA senior wildlife scientist Colin Booty said:

"This is probably the biggest welfare issue affecting our wild deer. As well as the deer that are killed, over 10,000 are severely injured every year when hit by vehicles. The RSPCA alone receives over 3,000 calls annually regarding such accidents. Being DeerAware will help to reduce the annual toll and we are pleased to be working alongside other organisations that are equally as keen to tackle this issue."

DeerAware follows several years of work into investigating deer-vehicle collisions, led by the Deer Initiative Partnership, and involving national and internationally recognised environmental, road safety, and animal welfare organisations, including the National Trust, RSPCA, Highways Agency, WildCRU at the University of Oxford, the RAC and the AA.

Philip Gomm, RAC Foundation, commented:

"With 1.5 million deer resident in the UK the chance of hitting one is significant – as is the risk of being injured or killed as a result. Patently you are not going to change the behaviour of the animal, so it has to be the responsibility of drivers to be ‘deer aware’. We still need more complete reporting of deer related incidents, and are pleased to hear that the Highways Agency, as part of the Department for Transport, will continue to work with the Deer Initiative and other partners to collect more data so that the problem can be publicised – and then tackled."


Issued on behalf of the Deer Initiative by the Highways Agency National Press Office. For further information please contact Alex Barnett.

The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

DeerAware is a campaign initiated by The Deer Initiative (including but not limited to partners the Highways Agency, the National Trust, the RSPCA, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the AA, the RAC, the British Deer Society, the Forestry Commission, and Roadsafe GB). The dedicated website, www.deeraware.org.uk , provides useful information and background to the campaign.

Please see www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk for further information on The Deer Initiative’s work, including reports, news, and downloads.

Graphics of campaign materials are available from Alex Barnett.

Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available:

- From our Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet at www.trafficradio.org.uk To tune into the DAB service, simply press the "scan" button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach "Traffic Radio".

- From the web at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or www.highways.gov.uk/mobile if using a phone or mobile device. Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.

- By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT residential landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk , or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 08457 50 40 30 at any time (Calls to 0845 numbers will cost no more than 4p per minute from BT residential landlines. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

Receive our national and regional press releases by RSS and get the latest headlines straight to your desktop the moment we publish them to our website. Choose to receive a national press feed or one of our regionalised feeds - go to www.highways.gov.uk/rssnews for more information.

Issued on behalf of the Deer Initiative by the Highways Agency National Press Office. For further information please contact Alex Barnett.
HA 27-09


Alexander Barnett
Phone: 020 7153 4847

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