A Public Policy Exchange Symposium: The Role of Local Authorities in Safeguarding Wildlife on Local Highways: Protecting Wildlife and Improving Road Safety was held on 3rd May as part of an ongoing campaign to promote deer wildlife awareness on UK roads. The British Deer Society writes: “Protecting wildlife near highways and trunk roads is becoming increasingly problematic for local highway authorities. Lack of resources to tackle the problem is a recurring theme for many who try to prevent wildlife vehicle collisions.
“In July 2016 the Local Authority Roads (Wildlife Protection) Bill passed through its first reading in Westminster. This Bill was expected to have its second reading on Friday 3 February 2017 but has since been dropped by the sponsoring MP and will not progress any further. The Bill was set to place a duty on local highways agencies and local transport authorities to make provisions safeguarding wildlife on roads passing through, or adjacent to, specified protected areas; and for connected purposes.
“In light of recent political developments, this symposium provided a much needed opportunity to highlight solutions for protecting wildlife by discussing enhanced fencing, clearer signage and inclusion of animal crossings to be incorporated at the planning stages of new road projects. The event also offered an opportunity to further build on partnerships between local highway authorities and wildlife conservation trusts in order to establish sufficient research surrounding the wildlife vehicle collisions. The recurring theme throughout the day was a need for a more collaborative approach to data sharing, an approach we whole heartedly support.
“Across the UK it is estimated that there could be between 40,000 – 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents this year alone, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and more shockingly, 20 deaths. The combined economic impact of injury accidents and car damage is likely to exceed £50 million per annum.
- 1.5 million deer live wild in Britain
- There are six main species of deer
- There are up to 74,000 deer related traffic accidents in the UK each year
- There are several hundred human injuries and even human fatalities each year as a result
The British Deer Society advises: The highest risk of a deer-vehicle collision is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
Advice to drivers – top tips from Highways England on the best approach if you come into contact with a deer whilst driving:
– When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, check your speed and stay alert.
– If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer, as they may ‘freeze’.
– More deer may follow the first one you see.
– Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse. #Don’tVeerForDeer
– If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.
– Do not approach an injured deer – it could be dangerous.
If you need to report a Deer Vehicle Collision or to find out more on safety advice, please visit www.deeraware.com The Deer Aware web site exists to offer basic advice on how to avoid a collision and to collect data on the number of accidents.
The Society concludes: “Our research is the only national effort to collect data that could be used to save lives – the information you submit is an essential part of this important effort.”
Notes for editors:
The Deer Initiative
The Deer Initiative is a broad partnership of statutory, voluntary and private sector interests dedicated to ‘ensuring the delivery of a sustainable wild deer population in England and Wales’ (www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk). The Partners include such diverse organisations as Highways England, the RSPCA, and the RSPB. All the members of the Partnership abide by the principles of the Deer Accord and encourage others to share their commitment and priorities as an integral part of their management of deer.
The DI will be using social media to spread the message and share tips about being Deer Aware.
Deer Aware www.deeraware.com
Road traffic accidents involving deer present a major problem in the UK as well as in many other countries in Europe. For example, in Germany over 220,000 traffic collisions occur annually involving deer, over 1000 of which lead to human injuries and around 20 human fatalities.
In the UK there is no system for central collation of road traffic accidents involving deer or other wildlife, and firm statistics on the scale of the problem in this country remain unavailable.
However, a pilot survey commissioned by the Highways Agency (now Highways England) in 1997 based on retrospective data estimated that the number of deer killed annually in traffic collisions in the UK was already between 30,000 to 40,000.
A fuller study commenced in 2003, again with lead funding from the HA, based on sample data collected annually from a range of organisations and individuals; this reaffirms that the annual number of deer killed or injured on UK roads is likely to exceed 40,000 and may well be nearer 74,000. Further information on the findings of the studies available in: http://www.deercollisions.co.uk/ftp/DI%20England%20Monitoring%20DVCs%20to%202010/DI-DVC_England2011_Summwfigs_rev.pdf