Blog: Damage hitting deer cost dear

Motoring editor Andy Russell had a close encounter with a herd of fallow deer on the A11 just six d

Motoring editor Andy Russell had a close encounter with a herd of fallow deer on the A11 just six days after his wife had the misfortune to actually hit one. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Two close encounters with wild deer proved scary and expensive, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

It was a 'deer' end to 2015, bringing us back to earth with a bump amid all that festive cheer.

My wife and I share the same birthday – no, we're not twins – a few days before Christmas and it got off to a bad start when a muntjac deer which ran across the road straight into the front bumper of her car on her way to work in the dark.

Muntjac may be small but they're stocky and the result is an insurance claim for more than £1,600 to repair the car. Needless to say, the deer paid the ultimate price.

Fortunately, despite seeing plenty in fields flanking country roads, I've never had a close encounter with a deer while driving... until just six days later.

Travelling northbound on the A11 dual-carriageway near Snetterton race track, at the edge of my peripheral vision I spotted a sizeable herd – probably around 15 – of what I think must have been fully-grown red deer.

I was able to accelerate out of danger, getting past them before they galloped on to the road, but the lead deer ploughed into the side of the car behind me, sending the nearside door mirror flying into the air, and, to my relief, a motorcyclist following that car was able to slow enough to pass behind them.

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They then jumped the barrier on the central reservation and galloped across the southbound carriageway, with drivers braking hard to avoid them.

I've never seen anything like it in nearly 40 years of driving and I hope not to get a repeat performance.

With more than a million wild deer in Britain, how can you best prepare for driving around them safely.

May, October and December show peak numbers of collisions with deer, so take extra care. The highest risk times are from sunset to midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM):

Ensure all windows are clean and clear for maximum visibility, especially as low sun can cause glare.

Use your lights to help you see further ahead but dip them if you see a deer.

Be alert for road signs warning where animals might cross but, remember, they could appear from anywhere along your journey.

Stick to the speed limit, so you have more time to react to a hazard, and avoid tailgating.

Don't swerve away from the road to prevent losing control.

If you've seen one deer expect to see another, particularly during mating season.

If you hit a deer, report it to the police who are best able to contact a local representative who can help the injured deer.

Mark Lewis, IAM director of standards, said: 'Colliding with a deer can be a shocking experience. leading to trauma and injury for the wild animal and extensive damage to the vehicle or worse for the driver or rider.

'If you regularly drive in areas where you see deer crossing, try to recall where these locations are and take extra care when approaching them – particularly when driving through rural locations, woods and open fields.'

Have been injured or your vehicle seriously damaged hitting a deer? Email motoring@archant.co.uk