Motorists are being warned to take extra care as the clocks go back this weekend amid concern for deer passing through the road network.

Roads authority Highways England said Friday (October 29) that there was a "substantial increase in deer vehicle collisions from October to December" due to fewer daylight hours and typically worse driving conditions in a campaign supported by the British Deer Society.

Research from the DeerAware campaign meanwhile found previously that the risk of deer injuries and collisions with drivers increases after the clock change at the end of October. The campaign pointed out that drivers are more likely to be on the road when deer are most active from sunset to midnight and the hours shortly before and after sunrise due to the change.

National Highways Head of Road User Safety Jeremy Phillips said: "As the clocks go back this weekend, journeys next week may feel different for many drivers even on familiar routes. This time of year we see an increase in the number of deer collisions and our advice is to take care while driving and look out for deer."

The warning came after Surrey's Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) highlighted an increase in the number of deer that were being referred to them last month in need of medical attention.

The charity received a spate of calls at the start of September and were force to urge people not to try and help deer alone after one incident due to various risks to both the animals themselves and the people hoping to help them.

WAF CEO Simon Cowell said: "Deer are such difficult animals to handle and care for and can be incredibly dangerous, particularly when they are confined in a small space like a car. They are prone to panic and should not be transported by anyone other than an expert.

"We ask anyone who comes across one not to touch it, cuddle it, sit with it or wrap it in anything. They can literally die of shock. Roe deer, which are common in Surrey, are particularly vulnerable.

"While the person who took the deer with the broken home thought they were doing the best thing for the animal, if we were called straight away we could have put it out of its misery sooner and saved hours of unnecessary suffering."

The government's motorists warning meanwhile issued a checklist for deer-related safety on the roads as autumn draws in, reproduced here:

  1. When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, check your speed and stay alert
  2. If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can, but dip them if you see deer as they may ‘freeze’ on the spot instead of leaving the road
  3. If you see a deer, look for another. They often gather in herds and follow each other as they move through the landscape.
  4. Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic, use your hazard lights. Try to come to a stop as far away from an animal as possible to enable it to leave the roadside without panic. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could lead to a more serious collision.
  5. If you must stop, use your hazard warning lights


​​If you do find yourself involved in a collision:

  • Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can
  • Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on. Consider using it to also warn other road users
  • Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it
  • Call the police

"The police can also contact specialists to deal with injured deer. Never try to move deer off the road yourself as this will put you at great risk of injury," Highways England said.