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Autumn Deer Aware Driving Advice

With the clocks turning back this week, commuters across South West Scotland are being advised to look out for deer crossing local trunk roads.

The deer rutting season is at its peak and Scotland TranServ has identified a number of potential deer strike hotspots. We have therefore recently installed temporary signage for the season at 8 key locations identified within our Deer Management Plan, including the A701 at St Ann’s, the A78 at Stevenston and between Ardgowan and Largs, the A77 at Kilmarnock, our M77 carriageway between Pollokshields and Newton Mearns, the A737 at Johnstone, M74 at Junction 6 (Motherwell/Hamilton) and the M8 from Junction 11 to 13 (Stepps Road to Provan).

Isla Davidson, Scotland TranServ’s Senior Environmental Specialist, said:

“Deer are often more mobile at two particular times each year: In May and June young deer disperse from breeding grounds to search for new territory of their own. Meanwhile, October and November is the rutting season for the larger deer species (red deer, fallow and sika), when adult males challenge each other for breeding rights.

“Deer are particularly active around sunrise and sunset which, at this time of year, coincides with the peak commuter time when there are likely to be more vehicles on the road. Their darker winter coats make deer particularly difficult to spot, so please be extra vigilant as they can appear without warning out of the fields and woodland that border much of the region’s road network.”

Figures on the number of DVCs (Deer-Vehicle-Collisions) collated from the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions project suggest that while it is safe to say 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle strikes every year, due to under-reporting this figure could be as high as 70,000 across Britain as a whole. At the same time, conservative estimates of 400 injuries to vehicle passengers related to these collisions could well be nearer 1,000 annually.

Dr Jochen Langbein, who oversees the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project, added:

“In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK and many other European countries, wild deer numbers have increased significantly over recent decades. Many people think most accidents with deer and vehicles occur on more remote Highland roads, but in Scotland at least 40 percent occur on A-class trunk roads or motorways, including across much of South West Scotland’s road network.”

While Scotland TranServ would always advise drivers to remain vigilant to the potential of deer wandering onto our trunk roads there are other actions that motorists can take to help avoid a potential deer strike:

IAM Roadsmart’s Tim Shallcross said:

“Deer are well camouflaged and make use of cover such as trees as a defence against predators. Maximise your vision by using your headlights at dusk and dawn – don’t rely on daytime running lights. Watch for the reflections of your lights in their eyes – two small points of light ahead could be a deer looking at you.

“Deer are social animals – if one crosses the road ahead of you, slow right down because the rest of the herd may be close behind and will follow without looking for traffic. Finally, if deer stop in the road ahead, a single blast of the horn for a couple of seconds will often scare them away, but slow down first. Don’t assume the deer will move and make sure you can stop safely if it doesn’t.”

The top five driving tips are:

Be extra vigilant where you see ‘deer’ or ‘wild animal’ road signs

Use your high-beam headlights (without dazzling other drivers) when it’s dark, but dip them if you see a deer, otherwise it may freeze in your path

Don’t over-react or swerve excessively. It’s safer to continue on your normal track rather than swerving or braking hard to try to avoid a deer

If you do hit a deer, try to stop somewhere safe

Report the accident to police – they’ll contact correct authorities to help injured deer


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