DRIVERS in Irvine and Kilwinning are being advised to look out for deer wandering on to major roads, particularly during the month of May.

Vehicle accidents involving deer peak at this time of year, as young deer disperse and increasingly cross major roads to look for their own territories. Scotland TranServ has identified hot spots around the A78 Bypass and the A77 between Ayr and Kilmarnock.

Tommy Docherty, Scotland TranServ’s Network Control Centre Manager said: “Our Trunk Road Incident Support Service (TRISS) and Incident Support Unit (ISU) teams are particularly busy at this time of year, tackling the aftermath of deer collisions; not only 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. Their main function is to keep the road safe, but often they need to contact animal welfare experts directly for them to put the injured deer out of its misery.”

Dr Jochen Langbein who oversees the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project added: “In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK and many other European countries, wild deer numbers have risen significantly over recent decades. Many people think most accidents with deer and vehicles occur on more remote Highland roads, but in Scotland at least 40 per cent occur on A-class trunk roads or motorways, including across much of South West Scotland’s road network.”

There is no system for the central collation of road traffic accidents involving deer in the UK, however figures collated from a number of studies suggest that while it is safe to say 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle strikes every year, this figure could be as high as 70,000 across Britain as a whole. And, conservative estimates of 400 injuries to vehicle passengers related to these collisions could well be nearer 1,000 annually.

It is estimated that in Scotland the figure could be as high as 9,000 collisions per year, resulting in anywhere between 50 and 100 human injuries, with the total cost of material damage and injury thought to be around £9.5million.

The top five driving tips are:

1. Be extra vigilant where you see ‘deer’ or ‘wild animal’ road signs

2. 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

3. Don’t over-react or swerve excessively. It’s safer to continue on your normal track rather than swerving or braking hard to try to avoid a deer

4. If you do hit a deer, try to stop somewhere safe

5. Report the accident to the police – they’ll contact the correct authorities who can help the injured deer.