Roddy Graham's Blog: 28 May 2009 - Deer trouble
28 May 2009
The daughter of a friend of mine has just been involved in her second DVC within less than 12 months. DVC I hear you ask? Deer-Vehicle Collisions. They are on the rise, as is the UK deer population. Latest population estimates range between 1.5 and 2 million - that's the highest number for over a 1000 years!
In both instances my friend's daughter was lucky. She got away with minor front end damage but it could have been far worse. The first involved a comparatively small deer in broad daylight, the second involved a huge stag in the wee small hours. The mechanic at the garage to which she has taken her car for repair said he was involved in three DVCs in one year alone.
According to the Deer Initiative, road traffic accidents involving deer represent a major and under-recognised problem in the UK. Working on behalf of the Highways Agency, the Deer Initiative has been trying to collect data on RTAs, recording some 30,500 DVCs in the UK between January 2000 and December 2005, 24,500 RTAs being recorded in England alone.
I didn't even know that a deer vehicle incident reporting website existed but there is one at DeerCollisions.co.uk. As you can imagine, the figures above are only the tip of the iceberg.
Even the Deer Initiative recognises it is only gathering information on a small proportion of deer-vehicle related incidents, probably only about 20% in their estimation.
Concentration of DVCs are at their highest not in Scotland but in South East England with the most continuous distribution of DVCs recorded there as well as by far the highest reported frequencies.
There are apparently six types of deer in the UK, the most popular being the Roe Deer with an estimated population of over 800,000 followed by the Red Deer who number over 350,000. The latter are more likely to be involved in a DVC between October and January while DVCs for Roe Deer occur highest in May, double any other month. So a Roe Deer it probably was in this latest incident.
In terms of times of day, the highest incidence of DVCs takes place between 6pm and midnight with the second highest peak occurring between 6am and 9am when we are commuting to work.
In the period covered there were 20 fatalities, 134 serious injuries and 635 minor injuries. Latest figures suggest an average of 10 people a year are killed by DVCs in the UK.
The insurance cost estimates equate to over £17m per year with around 11,000 cars involved not to mention trucks and buses.
The chances of you or I being involved in a DVC may be as high as one in eight, especially for those of us living in South East England. It does make you think, especially when a deer could end up in your lap if you are very unfortunate and it comes through the windscreen.
Farmers are already calling for the culling of deer to increase. Currently around 350,000 are shot each year but they would like to see this figure rise to at least 400,000 because of the damage to fields and crops. Given the risks to drivers, especially those living in South East England where both traffic and deer volumes are highest, greater driver education of the risks involved together with deer population management in the identified hot spots would appear to be the order of the day. Venison may also become the menu of the day.