Over the last two years almost 4000 animals were hit and killed by vehicles on major routes in Britain, and although this may seem like a large number, these are just the reported ones. Te estimated numbers are nearer 165,000 a staggering figure.

In fact, 39% of motorists have acknowledged to hitting an animal at some point throughout their life driving, and only 14% reported it, although there are particular animals which you need to report hitting by law. These are dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules, as set out in the Road Traffic Act of 1988. What is interesting is that 59% of those who had hit an animal and not reported it, said this was because they knew that only certain animals need to be reported.

Crossing animal

Facts and Figures

The figure of 4000 only includes animals that have been killed on the road in accidents which were reported, which is why there are only four rabbits and four pheasants in the data although these are two types of animal that you would expect to have been hit most often. Interestingly enough the report said that a wallaby had died! The list of killed animals also included a heron, peacock and a goat.

The most commonly hit and reported animal is a deer, with 1117 being killed over the two year period, making up 29% of all reported animal accidents. Badgers were the second most hit at 23%, which equates to 915 reported accidents, and foxes are in third place with 716 being killed and reported.

Avoiding Animals

Despite being warned that they should not change their driving if they spot an animal in the road, 49% of motorists had tried to avoid hitting an animal with 43% of them saying they had tried braking heavily and 40% admitting that they had swerved to avoid one. When learning to drive, learners are told never to swerve or brake suddenly, in avoiding an animal running across the road, to protect the safety of other motorists.

On the other end of this scale, 11% said that the reason they did not try to avoid animals in the road through heavy braking or swerving was to protect other drivers (33%). 22% said to prevent hurting themselves plus any motorist who hit another vehicle due to trying to dodge an animal would be entirely liable for the collision.
However, some drivers would change their driving behaviour for certain animals but not others, with 80% saying that they would swerve to avoid a dog. On the other hand, only 47% said the same about a bird, which could link to the fact that hitting a dog needs to be reported whereas hitting a bird does not.

Most Dangerous Road

A different report released found that the most dangerous road for animals was the A303 from Basingstoke to Devon, via Stonehenge. This road runs through some beautiful countryside, which means more animals are liable to run across. In Canada, they have a system that along bigger roads that have a high proportion of animal deaths, they put large barriers to stop animals from running into the road.

In the same report, 18% of Britons said that they would eat roadkill, and some even said they had eaten roadkill! Looking further at the results at what animals people would eat, 10% would be happy to eat a swan and 14% willing to eat a squirrel!

Staying Safe

It is important to remember that staying safe on the roads and protecting yourself and other motorists may mean that hitting an animal is unavoidable at times. If you, unfortunately, do kill an animal, and you can recognise it as one on the list, then do make a note of the area, road name and time of day and get in touch with your local authority as soon as possible.
For more information on reporting animals, please visit the Government website.

Do you swerve around animals when driving? Would you eat roadkill? Let us know in the comments

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