The North-east is one of the areas of Scotland where road accidents involving deer are most common, and at this time of year, as more people will be driving in the dark, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is warning drivers to be extra alert to wild deer on the roads.
Wild deer numbers have reached record levels, and the consequent danger of deer-related road traffic accidents has therefore also risen.
Around 2,000 deer-related accidents are reported each year, though figures are believed to be nearer 8,000-14,000.
Collisions with large animals such as deer can be catastrophic, but there are some simple guidelines that can increase chances of avoiding a shocking accident.
FLS has joined with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to offer guidance for night time driving when there could be deer on the road.
Dr Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland, said: “When driving on country roads you have to try to anticipate the unexpected.
Single track lanes, blind corners, and even the possibility of animals crossing can make driving challenging even for the most experienced drivers.”
RoSPA’s tips to minimise drivers’ chances of colliding with deer include watching your speed on rural roads, being aware of warning road signs and being vigilant in areas where you have seen deer during daylight.
If you see a deer, slow down to pass it and keep an eye out for more. Be ready to brake if a deer appears on the road. Use indicators to warn other drivers if you are passing deer or slowing down.
Ian Fergusson, FLS head of wildlife management, said: “As deer numbers rise, it’s really important that those driving on rural roads at night are extra vigilant.
“We are aware that deer accidents are more likely to happen on rural roads adjacent to forests and other wild habitats but they are becoming more common on major roads around our towns and cities.
“Hitting a large animal is distressing at best and apart from damage to vehicles and potential injury to drivers and passengers, no-one wants to leave a wild animal hurt and in enduring pain.”