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Motorists in East Sussex are being urged to be ‘deer aware’ to avoid colliding with the creatures on rural roads.

Every year there are an estimated 74,000 deer-related traffic collisions in the UK, with the risk of encountering the animals on the road increasing during the mating season in October and November.

East Sussex County Council is using social media to offer simple tips for drivers to ensure they stay safe on the county’s network of rural roads this autumn.

People should take particular care in areas where there are deer warning signs or heavily wooded roads, at night and around dawn and dusk, when deer are most likely to venture out.

Cllr Bill Bentley, county council lead member for communities and safety, said: “We’re lucky in East Sussex to have some stunning countryside which provides an ideal habitat for deer.

“These animals may appear on the road unexpectedly, particularly at this time of year, and the results of a collision with a deer can be very serious indeed.

“By following some simple tips, drivers can keep themselves safe and ensure these magnificent creatures can continue to roam freely and thrive in our beautiful countryside.”

People are advised to use full-beam headlights at night if no other cars are around, as they will reflect the deer’s eyes, but dip their headlights when they see a deer to avoid startling it.

Deer often travel in groups so if drivers see one crossing the road they should slow down and drive with caution as others may follow.

Anyone who hits a deer is advised to stay calm, park in a safe place with hazard lights on and call the police on 101, or 999 if someone is injured or the deer is in the road.

People should not approach or try to comfort an injured deer, as it may make the animal more distressed or cause it to run back into the road.

The council will be promoting messages using the hashtag #deeraware based on advice from The Deer Initiative. More information is available online at www.deeraware.com

As well as during the autumn mating season, deer are also more likely to be seen on rural roads during calving in May and June.