MOTORISTS across Hampshire are being warned that amorous deer are putting the lives of road users at risk.

Highways England and The Deer Initiative have joined forces to issue the warning to drivers as the annual rutting season gets underway.

Across the UK it is estimated that there are up to 74,000 deer-related accidents this year, resulting in up to 700 human injuries and 20 deaths.

The campaign has been aimed at the New Forest where more than 2,000 deer, including fallow, roe, sika and red deer, roam.

But motorists driving through the county where there are deer roaming wild, have also been warned of the dangers.

The warning comes after a Hampshire nurse died when her car hit a deer as she went to work last year. Ivory Lapitan was killed after she hit the deer when it ran in front of her car, and then crashed into a tree on the A33 near Micheldever.

The 24-year-old was on her way to a shift at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

The most dangerous time for hitting a deer is from October to December as the animals will be on the move for the autumn mating season, also known as the rut.

The highest risk of a deer-vehicle collision is between sunset and midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

Tony Sangwine, of Highways England, said: “Safety is our top priority, which is why we care about people’s journeys.“We are working with The Deer Initiative to warn motorists about the risks caused by deer, when they suddenly appear on the road, particularly at both dawn and dusk.” “With most deer movement coinciding with key commuting hours, we are urging drivers to be more aware during this time of year so that they can complete their journeys safely and without incident.”

Advice from the campaign includes dipping headlights to avoid deer ‘freezing’ and to be ready for more deer if one appears. If you see an injured deer you are also advised not to approach it as they can be dangerous.

Drivers involved in an accident in the New Forest can contact the police, the Forestry Commission’s 24-hour line on 0300 067 4600 or the Verderers in during office hours on 02380 28 2052.