Can you tell a buck from a doe, stag or hind? What about a fallow, roe or sika?

We have a wonderfully diverse wild population of deer in the UK. During May and June there are usually more sightings due to calving season, and again in October and November for mating season. It is exciting to spot a wild deer, but on the roads they are a potentially serious hazard. Here in East Sussex we have a lot of beautiful countryside and roads which run through it – meaning more roaming land for deer compared to other places in the country.

Living wild and unfenced, to these deer, roads are just pathways to cross. Road traffic accidents involving deer present a major problem in this country with more than 42,000 deer killed in collisions on the roads every year. By accurately identifying and reporting deer seen on our roads you will be able to help protect yourself and the animals.

Take a look at the six species of British deer, and read up on our top tips below to make sure you know what to do to prevent an emergency and be deer aware.

How can you prevent hitting a deer on the road?

Know their schedule
Deer cross the roads all year round, but more so in May and June for calving season, and October and November when it’s mating season. They will usually be seen on country roads between sunset and sunrise.

Seen one? Look for another.
If a deer crosses in front of you, it is likely that another will follow. If it is safe to do so, slow right down or stop and wait. Deer are unpredictable so drive with caution.

Spot the warning signs
There are warning signs placed exactly where deer are known to cross. If you see one – slow down, stay alert and be prepared to stop.

Drive safely
Drive at a speed that is appropriate for the conditions and environment. That way, if you do hit a deer you are more likely to walk away unharmed.

Use your lights
If dark, use full-beam. It will illuminate the eyes of deer and give you more reaction time. But, if you see deer on the road ahead, dip your headlights to avoid startling them.


What do you do if you hit a deer?

Remain calm and keep safe
Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can.

Park up
Park your car in a safe place with hazard lights on. Use your car to warn other road users if it is safe to do so.

Call for help
If anyone is seriously injured or the deer is blocking the road, call 999. If the deer is injured, at the side of the road and not causing danger to others, call the police on 101. They will arrange for the deer to be looked at.

Don’t touch the deer
It is best not to approach injured deer as it could cause further distress or cause it to run back in to the road. An injured deer will not benefit from efforts to sit with it or keep it warm.

Thanks to The Deer Initiative and Highways England.


(Article updated on 25/04/2021)