What to do if you accidently kill an animal while driving

Motorists have been advised what to do if they accidently kill or seriously injure an animal while driving
Motorists have been advised what to do if they accidently kill or seriously injure an animal while driving

Motorists in Sussex have been advised what to do if they accidentally kill or seriously injure an animal on our roads this summer.

Hitting an animal such as a fox, badger or even a deer is a real risk in many parts of the country, especially rural areas.

And under the Road Traffic Act, 1988, it is the responsibility of the driver to lookout for road signs which warn motorists there could be loose animals, such as deer and cattle nearby.

Car leasing giant LeaseCar.uk said it believes most drivers do not even consider the possibility of hitting an animal however road kill is a ‘familiar sight’ on our roads and motorways.

A spokesman said: “If drivers see warning signs they should be extra cautious and, in darker conditions, make full use of vehicle lights.

“Drivers must stop when hitting an animal, approaching only when it is safe to do so without putting themselves or anyone else in danger.

“You should observe the animal first to see how badly it is hurt before calling a vet or the authorities, it’s not advised to transport the animal yourself.

“It is vital to consider your own safety and that of others before approaching an injured animal, it’s also good to remember that most injured animals at the road side will be wild animals – so take extra care before approaching.

“Most wild animals don’t have legal protection in Britain so there is no requirement on a motorist to report a collision to police.

“However, the Road Traffic Act states drivers must legally contact the police if they hit dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules.”

Some of the most common animals killed via roadkill are badgers and wild birds, both of which are protected species.

And it is illegal to possess a badger, dead or alive, however you can eat a wild bird, so long as you can prove you didn’t kill it.

The spokesman added: “Some animals such as deer have extra protection and drivers should call police if they find the road ahead blocked by one, according to the Deer Act of 1991.

“In other cases, if you have killed an animal accidentally it is actually ok to park up, scoop up its body, take it home and cook it for dinner.

“However, if you offer the poor creature’s meat for sale, even to friends and family, you would be breaking the law.

“Birds are usually not protected with the notable exception of swans which enjoy royal protection as the property of The Queen.

“It’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter a swan on the road, but if it does happen it’s advised to not touch the animal if it is dead, or approach it if its alive. Instead contact the RSPCA.”

The car leasing company said it can be a ‘distressing situation’ for drivers if it happens to them.

“We wanted to give drivers an insight into the correct ways of dealing with it to stay on the right side of the law,” a spokesman said.

“If an animal is injured or in distress you should take it to a vet for treatment but it is important to make sure your vehicle has not been badly damaged in the collision and remains road worthy.

“However, if the animal is dead you are allowed to take it home and eat it providing its death was an accident and not deliberate. But if you sell the dead animal’s meat you could face arrest and prosecution.”