In 2018, 1,701 unfortunate animals were recorded as being found dead on England’s motorways and major A roads, including 564 deer, 252 foxes, 36 swans, 8 horses and a pig. The total figure is up from 1,599 recorded in the previous year.
Collisions with animals clearly take a toll on wildlife but they also pose significant dangers to road users. In 2017, there were 14 fatal accidents where ‘animal or object in carriageway’ was recorded as a contributory factor.
Research by the Deer Initiative estimates that there could be anywhere between 42,000 and 74,000 deer-related road accidents in the UK annually, a significant number though one that needs to be seen in the context of the 1.5 million-strong deer population.
Highways England which manages the country’s most important roads is going to increasing lengths to try and limit the interaction between humans and animals. They are building more green bridges – safe corridors across major routes – which allow wildlife to move about with some degree of security. The structures are already a familiar sight across much of the continent.
Of course, with the UK’s total road network measuring around quarter of a million miles there is only so much anyone can do through infrastructure design to limit these types of incident. Therefore, the onus must always be on drivers – and riders – to be aware of what might jump or run out in front of them.
Leaving aside the specific issue of animal collisions what this latest release of data by Highways England does reveal is the depth and breadth of the information that it, and indeed other agencies and departments, collects.
From journey times to crashes, from spending to traffic offences, there is a mine of information out there, much of which runs back many years, and often decades.
The challenge for policy makers, and organisations like the RAC Foundation, is to understand what exactly the data is telling us and which of the particular types of information we should take most notice of and then act on; not least in the interests of keeping road users and animals safe.