Autumn peak for deer strikes: AA

Posted 21 September, 2018 at 13:51

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (IFM) Independent Forecourt Magazine

  • Autumn ‘rut’ sees thousands of deer on the move

  • Up to 74,000 deer hit by cars annually causing c. £11m damage

  • Collisions with animals most likely during Autumn and Winter

After a long hot summer come the first reminders that winter’s around the corner and with it, plenty of hazards to challenge Britain’s drivers – not least of which are collisions with wildlife, especially deer, according to the AA.

AA car insurance statistics show that drivers are twice as likely to hit an animal during the autumn and winter, than in the summer. Tragically, deer and badgers are most likely to be the victims, as well as the occasional fox. And in places such as the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, you could be unlucky enough to hit a wild boar.

While potentially lethal for the animals that unwittingly run into the path of a car, they can cause an awful lot of damage too: to say nothing of potentially serious or fatal injury to drivers and their passengers, especially if the driver swerves suddenly and loses control.

Janet Connor, the AA’s insurance director says: “Deer are a particular problem during Autumn and in late Spring.

“There are some 2 million deer in the UK and the population is rising. It’s estimated that up to 74,000 of them are hit by vehicles every year according to The Deer Initiative and as Autumn progresses, our own customers’ insurance claims for deer strikes sharply rises.

“That’s because we’re coming into the rutting season for our largest deer species. The males have only one thing on their mind and are most likely to be on the move chasing females during dusk and dawn which coincides with the morning and evening commutes.

“We estimate that damage caused to cars by hitting deer and other animals costs the insurance industry around £11 million per year.”

Keep a sharp eye out: AA advice

Areas where deer are most likely to be encountered are signposted – a leaping deer in a red triangle. It’s not just country roads that are affected, deer are just as likely to attempt to cross motorways and A-roads.

Says Connor: “Where the potential presence of deer is signposted take particular care and keep your speed down. If you see a deer cross a road ahead, expect more to follow so slow right down and be prepared to stop. As it gets dark, if your headlights pick out bright green reflections close to the road, they are highly likely to be from the eyes of nearby deer that could suddenly cross the road.”

If you do see a deer the AA advises trying not to brake and swerve at the same time as you might lose control of the car completely and hit an oncoming vehicle, especially if it’s wet and there are leaves on the road.

  1. if you are unlucky enough to hit a deer or other animal, call the police who will offer advice and summon a vet or the RSPCA to assist if the animal is injured and arrange to have it removed. If you can, move your car to a safe place. Put on your hazard warning lights and, if you have a reflective triangle, place it at the side of the road at least 45 metres (about 150 feet) behind your vehicle. If you have high-visibility vests, you and your passengers should put them on and wait a safe distance from and behind your car, in case another vehicle collides with it. Don’t attempt to approach the animal.

By law, if you hit an ‘owned’ animal – defined as ‘horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog’, you must stop and call the police. But you are not legally obliged to do so if you hit a cat or any other animal.

Next, you should contact your car insurance company who will arrange for your car to be recovered if it is severely damaged, if the police have not already done so. If you have struck an ‘owned’ animal and you can establish ownership it might be possible to claim for the cost of damage or injury from them so it’s important if you can, to exchange details with witnesses and take pictures. Your own insurance company will advise. But if your car is damaged by a wild animal, a claim for damage or injury to your passengers will affect your no claim bonus and you’re likely to lose your excess unless you protected both as part of your policy.

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