It’s got to be one of the worst things that can happen when you become a driver. Hitting an animal, no matter how big or small, is not a nice experience. Unfortunately, however, there’s a chance it could happen at some point. It’s a good idea to know what to do in that case. Here are our tips on how to deal with an accident involving an animal.
We know that it’s really hard to not react but the general rule when an animal crosses your path is not to swerve. It goes against our natural instinct not to try and avoid a collision but, in the case of animals, you’re advised to try and keep going in a straight line but reduce your speed as much as possible to limit the impact. Swerving could lead to you hitting something else, someone else or another vehicle; the implications of which could be far more serious than if you hit an animal.
Which animal have you hit?
In the unfortunate event that you hit an animal, what you do next depends on what you have hit. Think of yourself first and only stop your car if it is safe to do so. Don’t put yourself in danger to try and approach the animal or move it.
The Road Traffic Act only comes into play when you hit any of the following animals:
If you hit any of the above, you are legally required to notify the police. If you hit an animal that isn’t listed above then you don’t legally have to report it but you may wish to notify the police of the incident anyway.
If you hit a wild animal such as a fox, again, you do not legally need to report it but you may wish to notify your local council as it’s their responsibility to clear the road. You can find your local council number here.
Alternatively, if the animal is only injured you may wish to call the RSPCA’s emergency number (0300 1234 999). If you do so, observe it from a distance as long as it is safe to do so, until the RSPCA or council arrive.
Unfortunately, cats, as natural wanderers, are prone to being hit by cars. If it’s possible to move the cat, whether it’s just injured or if it has sadly died, take it to your local vet and inform them that you are not the owner. If the cat is chipped, it may be that they can inform its owner of the incident. If the cat moves away before you can get to it, try to take note of which direction it went and ask any nearby residents if they know the owner so you can make them aware.
Deer are another animal prone to being hit by cars. In fact, 74,000 deer are killed each year on the roads in the UK, causing around £17million worth of damage. Accidents involving deer are more likely to happen during rutting seasons, so take extra care if you see deer warning signs during May, June, October and November. You should also be more careful during early morning or late evening drives. If you hit a deer then we would advise calling the police to report the incident or the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.