Drivers are being warned to be aware of a potentially growing danger this month, with the risk of wildlife venturing on to carriageways increasing as the nights draw in.
With the clocks set to go back at the end of October, this means dusk will fall far earlier in the evening. This can result in a higher risk of animals being struck by cars as the busiest periods for traffic coincide with their evening habits.
Why is autumn a dangerous time for animals?
As we mentioned, the change in the clocks and the darker evenings of autumn mean roads will have far less visibility than at other times of the year during the evening commute.
At the same time, autumn is the breeding season for both fallow and red deer, with thousands of deer up and down the country becoming more active in the early evenings as they search out a suitable mate.
In total, figures by the Deer Initiative show there are between 42,000 and 72,000 deer involved in vehicular collisions every year in the UK, leading to more than 450 injuries and 20 fatalities each year.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth commented: “We urge drivers to be on the lookout at all times, but to be particularly observant in the early mornings and early evenings.
“If you know your route takes you through areas where there are deer, then expect individual animals – or larger groups – to be crossing the road ahead of you.”
He added that it’s also important to be vigilant for other types of animals, including wild boars, badgers and other wildlife. What’s more, motorists should not just be on the lookout on motorways and major roads, as more than half of all collisions are recorded on rural routes.
“Hopefully forewarned is forearmed,” Mr Worth concluded, “so if you do encounter deer crossing it will be less of a surprise and you will be better able to avoid a collision.”
What to do if you’re involved in a collision
GEM has also offered some simple advice to help drivers involved in a collision with wildlife to know what to do. The first thing to remember is that it’s important to pull over safely after any accident involving a deer or other large animal and to report the incident to the police.
If the animal remains in the road, this could represent a risk to other road users. It’s therefore essential that the authorities are notified, as they will be able to organise any necessary veterinary assistance and to clear the route for other travellers.
Finally, motorists are reminded that it’s always best to avoid being involved in a collision if possible. As a result, they are urged to always take note of warning signs and to be extra vigilant when travelling on routes where there is a potential for deer or other animals to jump out into the road.
Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, comments: “It’s important for all drivers to have their wits about them when behind the wheel, especially when the days are getting darker in the autumn. Being vigilant means motorists can reduce their risk of being involved in a collision and will also help to protect wildlife in their area.”