The main aims of the Deer Aware project
- To build a National Database of Road Traffic Collisions involving deer in England, Wales and Scotland
- To assess factors associated with deer RTCs, and aspects of deer behaviour and management relevant to enhancing measures aimed at preventing such accidents
Key objectives for the study (Jan 2003 - 2015) included:
A) Developing a well stratified, nation-wide system for collection of standardised sample information on deer related RTAs from relevant sources throughout Great Britain in order:
- To ascertain the level and monitor trends in deer road casualties and related traffic collisions in differing regions of Britain
- To determine the key factors associated with increased frequency/risk of accidents in differing parts of the country and in relation to factors such as e.g. road types, deer species involved, traffic volume, presence/absence of differing types of mitigation and other influencing factors (daylight, time of day, roadside habitats, fencing, road signs)
- To assess likely levels of deer accident risk for different areas and/or roads through analysis of past accident records in relation to deer distribution, habitats and traffic density, and use of GIS mapping and computer modelling where appropriate
- To increase driver and public and awareness of deer related traffic collisions and how to avoid them
B) Investigating such aspects of deer behaviour and deer management which may affect accident risks and the effectiveness of differing mitigation measures. On that basis make recommendations regarding potential improvements in the design, installation and maintenance of measures aimed at reducing accidents. Questions to be addressed include:
- How do deer (and road users) react to road-side deterrents such as optical and acoustic warning reflectors, different types of fencing or other barriers, under and overpasses? How does such behaviour differ between the main deer species present in England?
- How, where and for what reasons do deer tend to cross roads and traffic, and how does this differ between species?
- Can deer crossing behaviour be manipulated (by e.g. diversionary feeding, selective fencing or provision of refuges from disturbance) to encourage them to cross in relatively safer areas?
- How does deer population control impact on traffic accident risk?
- Can drivers be alerted more effectively to the risk that deer may be about to cross, through means, for example seasonal signage; or Variable Message Signs (VMS) such as used on trunk roads to forewarn drivers during periods of heightened accident risk or high deer risk