A deer stands at the roadside as a car approaches

What to Do if You Hit an Animal With Your Car

Hitting an animal with your car is up there as one of the worst possible eventualities when you get behind the wheel. Sadly though, it happens, and if a deer, badger, cat, dog or anything steps out in front of your car, there’s often little to no time to take evasive action. 

Of course the first thought in this instance will, usually, be the wellbeing of the animal in question, but quite often you may find that your car could actually be much worse off than the wildlife. In today’s post, we’ll talk you through all you need to know when you’ve been involved in an unfortunate animal-related incident.

If your car has suffered significant damage thanks to an incident with a wayward critter, then Scrap Car Comparison is here to help you in your moment of need. With a nationwide network of specialist buyers and collectors spanning all four corners of the country, no matter what damages your car has suffered, we’ll come and take it off your hands and provide you with the very best price in a quick and stress-free manner.

What is the law when hitting animals with your car?

If you’ve just heard that depressing thud as an animal goes under your car, then you must stop and get out to assess the situation. A number of animals are covered under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and if you’ve hit one of these, then you must report it to the police. These animals are:

  • Horse
  • Cattle
  • Ass
  • Mule
  • Sheep
  • Pig
  • Goat
  • Dog

There is no requirement to inform the police if you hit any other animals, such as a cat or deer, but you may want to inform the police, local authority or specialists such as the RSPCA.

What to do if you hit a wild animal

The first thing you should do if you’ve hit any animal is to pull over into a safe spot as soon as possible to assess the damage of your own car first and foremost. If you’ve been involved in an accident and an animal was involved, either in a car or outside, then you must stop whether you were at fault or not.

You must ensure that you stay at the scene of the incident long enough that any involved parties – such as the animal’s owner, the RSPCA or the police – can take any information down that they need.

If you are planning on approaching the animal to check its wellbeing, be aware that it is likely to be in immense distress and absolutely terrified, so the chances of it lashing out at you are quite high. The RSPCA lists a number of animals that you should not handle if you see one injured at the side of the road, and should wait for trained professionals to assist you. These animals are listed below:

  • Deer
  • Seal
  • Wild boar
  • Otter
  • Badger
  • Fox
  • Snake
  • Bird of prey (including owls)
  • Swan
  • Goose
  • Heron
  • Gull

What to do if you hit a cat or dog

Hitting a domesticated animal can seem like a more traumatic experience as your gut feeling will be that you’ve hit someone’s beloved pet, rather than a wild animal fending for itself in the ever-expanding urban sprawl.

As we’ve previously mentioned, hitting a dog must be reported to the police, but that is not a requirement when it comes to their feline counterparts. Sadly, cats are some of the most common creatures to be hit on the roads, and ranked second on the list of types of animal to be involved in the most accidents in 2020, coming in behind wild mammals at the top of the pile. However, no matter how traumatic it is for you, it’s going to be much, much worse for the cat, so here’s some advice from Cats Protection on what to do.

  • Be careful of your surroundings, especially if you’re approaching a cat at the roadside. Watch out for busy traffic, or anything else that might put you in danger.
  • If you’re walking towards an injured cat, be careful. It may be scared and might try to bite or scratch you.
  • You’ll need something to put the cat into to transport them to the vets. While a cat carrier is ideal, a cardboard box with an old blanket or clothing will do. Remember – always pick up a cat with a blanket to shield you from its claws.

If you’ve hit a dog, then you’ll need to make sure you report it to the police first, and follow the same advice as above. Remember, be careful when approaching injured dogs as a scared dog is more likely to try and bite you.

When are you likely to hit an animal?

Accidents can happen at any time of year, and previous research into the number of incidents across the year have shown that this is very much the case when it comes to animals. These figures can be found at our previous post on this subject, where Scrap Car Comparison worked with the RSPCA to look into the figures surrounding animals and the likelihood of accidents on the road.

While January and February were atop the list, suggesting winter is the most common time for these incidents, the average figure was around 450-600 incidents a month and was fairly consistent across the year.  It’s important to note that these figures came from 2020, when road traffic dropped significantly from March onwards due to the various lockdowns and restrictions put in place as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

What animals are most likely to be hit?

Wild mammals are far and away the most likely animals to be involved in accidents on the roads, accounting for over 50% of all calls taken by the RSPCA over a 12 month period. Within that figure, deer made up almost half of all wild animals, with foxes and badgers the next most common mammals to be harmed by road vehicles.

Cats were the next most common animal, accounting for over a quarter of all calls, which also makes them the highest single species of animal caught up in road accidents. Birds, whether wild, marine, water or captive, accounted for just under a fifth of all calls. Dogs, meanwhile, only made up 3% of calls, while farm animals didn’t even make up 1% of incidents.

Get the best price with Scrap Car Comparison

If your car or van has been involved in an incident with an animal, big or small, chances are there’s likely some damage to be repaired. If that damage is causing you to reconsider whether or not it’s worth putting the money down to fix it, then Scrap Car Comparison is here to make that decision easier. Whether being sold as scrap or salvage, we’ll find you the very best quote from our network of specialists, and we’ll even come and collect it free of charge. Get started today and see just how much your old car could be worth.

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