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Deer are more likely to roam Hertfordshire's rural roads at this time of year - and drivers are being urged to keep an eye out for them.

They can travel several miles a day in search of a mate and will often cross roads at dawn and dusk in the process.

The fallow deer and muntjac deer are most common in the county, with roads surrounding Knebworth Park and the Ashridge Estate near Berkhamstead having a higher than average number of collisions.

Across the UK it is estimated that there could be up to 74,000 deer-related motor vehicle accidents this year alone, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and 20 deaths.

Highways England, CLA and The Deer Initiative are urging drivers to take note of the following advice:

  • When you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a heavily wooded or forested stretch of road, check your speed and stay alert.
  • If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer, as they may 'freeze'.
  • More deer may follow the first one you see so be alert if you see one at first.
  • Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse.
  • If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.

(BELOW: The results of a colliding with a deer can be serious - Picture: East Herts Police)

Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, said: "We want everyone to reach their destination safely and without incident. The one time you might experience a close encounter with a deer is when you are behind the wheel, especially during the rutting season when their increased activity could bring them out onto the roads.

"Our advice to drivers is to stay vigilant, especially during dawn and dusk when the deer are more mobile, which coincides with the morning and evening rush hour. Slowing down will give you more time to brake if an animal darts out into the road without warning."

The CLA (Country, Land and Business Association) represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses across England and Wales. CLA Regional Surveyor for the East, Tim Woodward, said: "As the clocks go back, motorists should be alert to the risk of deer running in front of vehicles which can happen with little or no warning.

"A collision with a deer can happen at any time of year but the darker evenings in the autumn increase the risk of the animals unexpectedly crossing roads and running straight into the line of oncoming traffic.

"Not only is this an animal welfare issue, but considerable damage can be done to a vehicle if it collides with an animal as large as a deer, and there is the risk that driver and passengers could be injured, too.

"Remembering how to react when you see deer can reduce the risk of a potentially life threatening accident."

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