Motorists are being urged to take extra care on roads over the autumn to avoid colliding with deer.

With the mating season in full swing, the risk of encountering the animals on the road increases and leads to an estimated 74,000 deer-related traffic collisions in the UK each year.

Now, East Sussex County Council is encouraging drivers in the county to be careful on rural roads.

Councillor Claire Dowling, lead member for transport and environment, said: “We are very lucky to live in a largely rural county where wildlife thrives, but this doesn’t come without its dangers.

“Every year we see the results of cars colliding with deer and it can be extremely serious.  We are urging motorists to be aware that deer may appear on the road unexpectedly at this time of year.

“By following simple tips, drivers can keep themselves and others safe and ensure deer can continue to roam freely and safely.”

Tips, based on advice from The Deer Initiative, include:

  • Slow down, stay alert and be prepared to stop when you see a deer warning sign or are travelling through a heavily wooded stretch of road
  • Take particular care at night, and around dawn and dusk when deer are most likely to venture out
  • Use full-beam headlights at night if there are no other cars around, but dip headlights if you spot a deer to avoid startling it
  • If you see a deer crossing the road, slow down and drive with caution as others may follow
  • If a motorist hits a deer they should stay calm, park in a safe place with hazard lights on and call the police on 101, or 999 if someone is injured or the deer is in the road.

People are advised not to approach or try to comfort an injured deer as it may make the animal more distressed or cause it to run back into the road.

Over the next couple of months, East Sussex County Council said it will be sharing tips on its social media channels using the hashtag #deeraware.