DRIVERS are being warned to take extra care after Hampshire was named as one of the worst areas for accidents involving deer.

Deer are responsible for as many as 74,000 collisions across the UK each year, resulting in several motorists being killed and hundreds of others suffering serious injuries.

Now a major study has revealed that some of the accident blackspots are in southern Hampshire.

Detailed statistics are still being compiled, but three of the worst roads are the A31 at Cadnam, the A337 Lyndhurst-to-Brockenhurst route and the A35 west of Lyndhurst.

Deer are also responsible for a large number of collisions on routes in the Winchester, Southampton and Fareham areas, including the A34, M27 and M3. The research has been carried out by the Deer Initia-tive (DI), a group of organisations dedicated to ensuring a sustainable deer population in England and Wales.

The findings have prompted the launch of the Deer Aware campaign, a joint DI and Highways Agency initiative that aims to tackle the annual spike in accidents.

Deer are often at their most active at dawn and dusk, which at this time of year coincides with the morning and evening rush-hour.

Between 15 and 20 people are injured in deer-related incidents in Hampshire every year.

One of the creatures was involved in a fatal collision on the A35 near New Milton in 2006. It was hit by a car and landed on top of another vehicle, crashing through the windscreen and killing the 38-year-old driver.

A spokesman from the AA said: “Deer are often an unseen hazard until it’s too late. As darkness falls collisions happen with little or no warning as the animals may leap out of woodland on to the road.”