Almost half of UK drivers wouldn’t report killing a dog with their car, according to new research.
A shocking 48 per cent of motorists said that they wouldn’t bother reporting the incident if the dog wasn't wearing a collar, with 34 per cent saying they wouldn’t bother even if the dog was tagged.
That’s despite it being a legal requirement to report any such incident to the police.
According to research by comparison site Uswitch, dogs are among the five most common animals killed on the country’s roads each year, with drivers in England’s north east most likely to report hitting one.
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Cats are also among the top five animal victims of road collisions but drivers were even less likely to report hitting one. Just 33 per cent would bother if the cat had a collar and only 22 per cent if it didn’t.
However, both domestic pets are far less likely to be killed than wild animals such as badgers, foxes and deer. In fact, while around 100 cat or dog casualties were reported between June 2019 and September 2020, nearly 296 incidents involving deer were reported. These, however, are only incidents reported to authorities and it is estimated that tens of thousands of deer are hit by cars every year but the incidents go unreported.
The data was gathered from road authorities around the UK via a Freedom of Information request and also revealed that the M5 in south-west England saw the most reported roadkill incidents, followed by the M6 and M62, while Southampton was the local authority with the most reports.
What is the law on hitting an animal?
The law around hitting an animal with your car varies depending on the species.
Although deer are the most common victim of incidents and are fairly large animals, it’s not a legal requirement to report crashing into one.
Similarly, you don’t need to report hitting cats, badgers or foxes.
However, under the Road Traffic Act (1988), you must report to police any collision with dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules.
What to do if you hit an animal
As well as the legal aspect of hitting an animal with your car, there are also safety and moral issues.
If you do hit an animal you should stop - if it’s safe to do so - and check the animal. Be careful when approaching it as an injured animal is likely to be frightened and may try to attack you. If it’s dead there’s not much more you can do except ensure it’s not causing a dangerous obstruction but if it’s only injured call the RSPCA (0300 1234 999); SSPCA (03000 999 999) or USPCA (028 3025 1000) to report it. The RSPCA has advice on dealing with an injured wild animal.
With any dead animal if it’s causing an obstruction on the road and you can’t safely remove it, you should report it to the local council or police straight away to avoid it causing any further accidents. This is particularly important with deer as even a dead one can cause serious damage to a car.
Once you’ve dealt with the animal casualty you should also check over your car. Hitting even something as small as a dog could potentially damage your car. If your car is damaged it should be covered by insurance, although you’re likely to lose your no claims bonus.
As well as informing the police, if you hit someone’s pet, such as a cat or dog, you may want to try and let the owner know. Check if the animal has a collar or tag with contact details on it.