DRIVERS in Helensburgh and Lomond are being warned to look out for deer crossing busy roads in the area as the rutting season reaches its peak – with two stretches of the A82 trunk road identified as being potential hotspots for deer strikes.

Scotland TranServ has identified the A82 between Renton and Alexandria, and the A82 between Dalnottar and Dumbarton, as areas where drivers should be particularly watchful.

Isla Davidson, Scotland TranServ’s Senior Environmental Specialist, said: “October and November is the rutting season for the larger deer species (red deer, fallow and sika), when adult males challenge each other for breeding rights.

“Deer are particularly active around sunrise and sunset which, at this time of year, coincides with the peak commuter time when there are likely to be more vehicles on the road. Their darker winter coats make deer particularly difficult to spot, so please be extra vigilant as they can appear without warning out of the fields and woodland that border much of the region’s road network.”

Figures on the number of DVCs (Deer-Vehicle-Collisions) collated from the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions project suggest that while it is safe to say 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle strikes every year, due to under-reporting this figure could be as high as 70,000 across Britain as a whole.

At the same time, conservative estimates of 400 injuries to vehicle passengers related to these collisions could well be nearer 1,000 annually.

Tommy Docherty, Scotland TranServ’s Network Control Centre Manager, added: “Our TRISS and ISU [Trunk Roads Incident Support Service and Incident Support Unit] teams are particularly busy at this time of year, tackling the aftermath of deer collisions; not only dealing with the loss of life of this beautiful native animal, but the damage to cars and indeed injuries to drivers and passengers.

"It can be very distressing having to attend such incidents. The main function of the TRISS and ISU teams is to keep the road safe, but often they need to contact animal welfare experts directly to arrange for them to put any injured deer out of its misery.”

The top five driving tips are: be extra vigilant where you see 'deer' or 'wild animal' road signs; use your high-beam headlights (without dazzling other drivers) when it's dark, but dip them if you see a deer, otherwise it may freeze in your path; don’t over-react or swerve excessively, as it's safer to continue on your normal track rather than swerving or braking hard to try to avoid a deer; if you do hit a deer, try to stop somewhere safe; and report the accident to the police – they’ll contact the correct authorities who can help the injured deer.