Marmalade, the leading insurance provider for young drivers, has reported that there is a growing crisis in deer/vehicle collision numbers in the UK, and is warning young motorists to stay alert. Given that UoN has plenty of students who drive to and from campus, around the city, and elsewhere, it is important to discuss the issue.
This year in the UK alone, there have been an estimated 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents, 700 of which resulted in injury and 20 of which in human death. A Marmalade Twitter survey indicated that one in five drivers have hit an animal whilst driving.
“Deer incidents have been on the rise in the past decade”
The UK is home to millions of species of wonderful creatures, but very often they are forced to compete with human activity. There are two million deer in the UK, and during the months between October and December they are on the move more than usual for the mating season. This, plus reduced daylight hours, means there are more vehicles on the roads when deer are most active. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that national figures related to deer incidents have been on the rise in the past decade, and that these numbers are expected to grow.
Marmalade CEO Crispin Moger noted that “for many young drivers this season could be their first experience driving in long periods of low light or darkness and testing weather conditions. Deer movement coincides with key commuting hours, meaning they can suddenly appear on the road when heavily populated with cars”.
“The animal was unfortunately shot and killed”
You may recall the recent incident in which a stag escaped Wollaton Park at rush hour. The 27-stone stag was described by park wardens as “agitated” and efforts made by the police to prevent it from getting close to the busy Derby Road and Queen’s Medical Centre resulted in damage to police vehicles. Ultimately, an emergency vet was called and the animal was unfortunately shot and killed. You can read more about that here.
Despite the urban environment of Nottingham, wildlife is all around us, from the squirrels who run around campus to foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, and deer. We are extremely lucky to be able to have nature around us in this way, but often human activity can clash with that of wild animals. It isn’t unusual to see animals who have been killed by vehicles on the road, and with the trend of collisions on the rise, it presents a worrying trend that will only get worse in the future.
So what can you do to lessen your chances of being in a collision? Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, told drivers to “stay vigilant, especially during dawn and dusk when deer are more mobile” and advised that ‘slowing down’ was key to reduce the odds of hitting an animal.
Marmalade’s Moger had similar advice, stating that “remaining vigilant and being aware of what to do in case you encounter a deer is a skill which is not taught or discussed during driving lessons. However, it’s important that all young drivers are aware of this issue, so they can fulfil their journeys safely and without incident.”
The tips given for deer safety are the following:
- When travelling through woodland or forested stretches of road, remain extra alert. Many are marked with deer warning signs, so check [your] speed and drive with caution.
- Dip full beamed headlights if in the vicinity of a deer as it may become startled and freeze.
- If a deer is ahead, be prepared to switch on hazard lights and stop. Swerving into oncoming traffic is likely to cause a larger accident.
- Deer often travel in groups. If you see a deer, there may be more that follow, so continue with caution and keep this in mind.
- Once a deer has been injured it can be aggressive and dangerous. Instead of approaching, call the police who can direct your call to the relevant team.
- Check if there are any deer hotspots in your area by going to The Deer Initiative website.
Take care as you drive this winter; and be wary as to who and what you’re sharing the road with.