On the way to meet Ronna Porter for lunch in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire (and we had a terrific time, incidentally). I’m driving from Wokingham so I go via Eversley, onto the A30 and into Hartley Wintney. It’s about 14 miles in total, takes about 25 minutes.
So I’m on the A30 just at the start of the section that becomes a dual carriageway before you get to Hartley Wintney when, suddenly, four deer burst out from the forest at the side of the road right where I am, intent on getting across the four-lane road. They don’t seem to notice me and my car.
Visualize it – I’m doing 50mph, good conditions, no other vehicles nearby, paying attention to the road nevertheless, and I’m in the midst of wild animals moving at a blurring pace.
Replaying the scene in my mind, it seems like it was all in slow motion. One deer ran right in front of me. One other right behind me. Another still, not sure where that one was, probably behind as well.
One, though, didn’t make it. Instead, it slammed into the side of the car. There was an almighty whack! as it hit. Remember, I was doing 50mph although I’d instinctively started braking when I saw the deer emerge from the trees so my speed was probably down to about 30mph.
By now, I’d slowed almost to a stop but had travelled onwards a good 70 feet or so. Looking in my rear-view mirror, I could see three deer racing across the road – they’d made the central reservation divider by this time – and the one that had collided with me had clearly been knocked flat.
But thankfully, I could see it struggling to its feet and, with a few shakes of its head, it was up and away following the other deer. Very quickly, all disappeared into the trees on the other side of the carriageway.
So no apparent injury to the animal, thanks goodness.
Can’t say the same for the car, though, as I saw when I reached my destination just 5 minutes or so later – nearside rear passenger door badly dented in multiple places. (A call to my insurance company later this afternoon has a repair claim process started.)
Isn’t it just the weirdest timing that, at the very moment I’m there on that spot on the road – the only vehicle in either direction as far as you could see – four deer emerge from the trees wanting to get across? What are the odds of that, I wonder.
What I think about in particular, though, is that it was literally split seconds in the timing that made the difference between a shaken deer with only a big headache instead of a head-on collision with an animal that I’m sure would have produced a death plus God knows what else.