The coming weeks will see a significant rise in the risk of collisions with deer and other wild animals, warns road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist.
Figures from the Deer Initiative indicate that between 42,000 and 74,000 deer are involved in collisions each year on roads in the UK, leading to more than 450 injuries, and up to 20 fatalities involving drivers and passengers each year.
Industry estimates put the cost of damage to vehicles alone to be at least £11 million.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: “We urge drivers to be on the look-out at all times, but to be particularly observant in the early mornings and early evenings.
“And it’s important to expect deer not just on rural lanes, as figures show more than half of all deer strikes occur on motorways.”
“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.
“The warning signs are there for a reason, so make sure you give yourself time and space to stop if you do encounter deer crossing.”
These days, it’s not only deer drivers should be looking out for – in some regions, such as the Forest of Dean, collisions with wild boar exceed those involving deer.
Although wild boar became extinct in the UK around 400 years ago, they are now back in some parts of the country.
The UK is home to an estimated wild boar population of 2,6003 or more.
Around 500 wild boar die in the Forest of Dean each year, either through culling by marksmen or because of a road collision.
Other areas where wild boar can be found include Kent, East Sussex, Bedfordshire, Devon, Dorset and Scotland.
Wild boar can reach 150kg in weight, meaning a collision could have severe consequences both for boar and vehicle.
The animals can be seen in daylight hours, but they usually come out after dark, adding to the collision risk.
What to do if you hit a wild animal
Although there is no legal requirement for a motorist to report a crash with a deer or wild boar, police urge drivers to report any crash where an animal is left on the road, purely because of the danger presented to other road users.
If you hit and injure an animal and it remains on the road, you should dial 999 as there is an immediate risk of another collision.
The police can also organise professional veterinary assistance.
From an insurance point of view, you should be able to make a claim for damage sustained in a collision with a wild animal but check the small print of your policy first.
Bear in mind that in making a claim you would lose your no claims bonus.
Have you ever had a collision with a wild animal in your van? Share your experiences in the comments below.