World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day
World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day - because animals deserve a chance of survival and dignity in death.
No animal deserves to be left in the road like rubbish following a road traffic accident.
World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day aims to be a day to commemorate the fallen and to help raise awareness to change the fate of those who have not yet found themselves in this predicament. So many animals never getting the option of a second chance, for no other reason but the driver didn’t see their lives as important enough to give them a second thought before fleeing the scene. Accidents will sadly always happen, and even the very best of drivers could accidently hit an animal unexpectedly. It is the actions of the driver in the aftermath that determines someone's level of moral bankruptcy.
How you can help
The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that drivers must report hitting the following animals to the police; dogs, horses, cattle/cows, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules. Although there is currently no obligation to report all animal deaths on roads, the police do advise that drivers should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals, such as cats, to notify them of the situation. Regardless of any laws, the most important thing is that the animal is given the very best chance should it survive the initial hit. We unashamedly urge people to concentrate on potentially saving an animals life before abiding by their duty of law. For example, a dog stands a much better chance of survival if seen by a vet, rather than a police officer with no veterinary skills. Even if the dog flees the scene of a collision, the incident is a recordable offence, and must be reported to police on 101 in all instances. For more information on dog collisions see here.
If you sadly hit or find a domestic cat injured in the street, they will need to see a veterinarian straight away. Drivers will not incur costs for taking in any injured animal to a vets. You can locate and contact your nearest via this link. Veterinarians are only obliged to administer pain relief to relieve suffering, so owners should ensure pets are microchipped and the details kept up to date. Every day in the UK, 630 cats will be hit by cars. 25% of hits will be fatal, meaning 75% have a good chance at survival if the driver seeks help straight away. Find out how you can help if you hit or find a cat in the road on our website. Including what to do if a cat runs off, how to administer roadside first aid, what to do out of hours, and much more.
If an animal is deceased, and does not have a collar with their owners details on, you can try knocking on doors in the immediate area. On average it will take someone knocking on 3 houses to either directly find an owner, or obtain knowledge of where it's believed the cat lives. Failing that you can take a deceased animal to the vets for microchip scanning and storage in cold facilities until the owner can be found. Dogs must now be microchipped by law, and the law is changing to bring cats in line with dogs, so there is a very good chance owners will be swiftly located. Drivers are in no way obligated financially for taking an injured or deceased animal to the vets. If out of hours, there are 24-hour vets operating UK wide - use this tool to find your nearest practice and this tool, typing in ''emergency vet'' and your location, for your closest emergency 24hr practice. You can also get in touch with your local scanning angel who can help by offering a free roadside microchip scanning service, if volunteers are available in your area.
Another option is to contact your local council who will collect deceased animals from the roadside. However, not all councils scan and return pets, and the time between reporting and collecting usually means someone else has already moved the cat. This option increases the risk of an owner not receiving closure. In addition to all of the above, you can also use lost and found sites on social media to try and locate the owner.
In Britain, annual road casualties are estimated to account for 100,000 fox deaths, 50,000 badgers, 50,000 deer, 30 million birds and 29% of hedgehogs. Based on statistical analysis of those potentially unrecorded, the realistic death rate is estimated to be around 70 million animals. A waste of life summed up in numbers that are hard to comprehend.
Wildlife casualties should be reported to your nearest wildlife rescue They are specifically trained to care for and rehabilitate wildlife, resulting in the animal standing a much better chance of survival as euthanasia rates in wildlife tends to be high. Like domestic pets, wildlife can also be taken to a veterinary practice at no cost to the driver. Your local council will collect deceased wildlife off roads. If you suspect a deceased wildlife casualty may be pregnant or lactating, or you have seen young nearby, contact your local wildlife centre immediately who can assist in rescuing the vulnerable young.
Should you see or hit an animal on one of England's motorways or major A roads, dead or alive, you should call Highways England on 0300 123 5000 They will notify a nearby patrol who will collect deceased animals and scan domestic pets for a microchip. Should the animal be alive and in danger, they will close the motorway and the RSPCA will be called to assist in a rescue operation if necessary. See also Transport Scotland, Dfi Roads Northern Ireland, and Traffic Wales. See here for brief of some other countries.
Collisions with larger animals can result in severe injuries or death to the passengers of the vehicle and are almost always fatal to the animal. During the daytime visibility is much better than at night when animals are practically invisible to drivers. Accidents involving large animals can be avoided if the animals are visible to approaching cars, and there are numerous ways landowners can help improve this situation. Livestock tend to wear ID tags, and simply placing high visibility reflective tape on the back of the id tag makes them visible to drives hundreds of feet way.
With 11 incidents a day occurring involving reindeer in Finland, herders have come up with an ingenious way to help keep reindeer and drivers safe. In the same way a luminescent jacket will light up when a cars headlights shine on it, herders cover the reindeers antlers with luminescent paint. Previous efforts to lower incident numbers had failed, but this has proved a success and has drastically improved road safety for reindeer and drivers. A similar tactic was used in the UK following the death of 74 Dartmoor ponies. Each pony was sprayed with reflective paint in a bid to make them visible to drivers.
Manipulated vegetation management can discourage some animals from venturing too close to a highway, and brush cutting on certain roads in particular seasons can affect vegetation palatability for animals. Examples are deer who might graze near the roadside, and moose when mid season cutting increases palatability. The composition of revegetation seed mixes can be altered to be less attractive to animals to steer them away from the area. Exclusion fencing can work for some animals but there are biological and ecological factors that contraindicate fencing as a blanket solution for all problem areas. Fencing impacts animals normal travel patterns, fragments habitats, and separates animals.
Wildlife and cars simply don’t mix. As we continue to encroach on animal habitats, the construction of roads means that more species are getting hit by vehicles than ever before. Conservationists continue to come up with ways to help prevent the number of animals being hit on our roads. Some of the current technologies that have been created and rolled out across the world include;
Electromagnetic wildlife detectors which work using electromagnetism, detecting when a wild animal enters the area and triggering flashing signs that warn drivers to look out,
Bat bridges which are cleverly designed to mimic bushes and assist their echolocation. Winged animals become especially confused when new roads are built because the hedges they previously followed have been removed for construction.
Scent fences are used using odour-infused foam containing the scent of predators like wolves, bears or even humans. It's sprayed on trees near the roadside helping prey species such as deer and boars to look for an alternative safer crossing.
Wildlife crossings help all sorts of species to cross busy roads safely. From bridges to underground tunnels, these techniques allow animals to bypass roads while still moving around freely.
Vehicle-based driver warning systems inform drivers of the possible presence of animals near the roadside using devices present in the vehicles equipped with such a detection system. These sensor based technologies are not present in every car so do check with the manufacturer. Although initially designed to ease insurance claim payouts, they also save animals lives. Volvo has been steadily rolling out technologies which us a radar to detect the objects around the car, and a camera to identify them. The automaker's Large Animal Detection system can spot and identify outsized carbon-based hazards and stop the car before it collides with them. Find out more here.
Roadside animal warning systems detect vehicles and then attempt to alert the animals through a range of audio and visual signals from stations placed in the right-of-way.
Mobile phone and interactive maps are now being trialed in some parts of the world. How these work is by mapping roadkill hotspots which can alert drivers using GPS when approaching these areas. US drivers can find out more here UK drivers and pedestrians can get involved in a similar initiative called Project Splatter, who collects data on the location of UK wildlife roadkill reported by members of the public. You can help by telling them about roadkill you have seen on roads in the UK, such as birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. This will help conservation efforts and let conservations know the areas they need to target here in the UK.
Prevention tips for drivers
Road users have to be attentive to more than the risks posed by other road users and, now more than ever, they need to be on alert for animals on the road as urban areas continue to push outward and displace animals from their natural habitats. As traffic continues to increase every year, collisions between cars and animals would seem like an almost inevitable consequence, but there are steps we can all take to minimise the risk, for both ourselves and animals.
Vigilance is the first and best defence - it's much easier to anticipate animals in the road and be ready to react in a calm and safe way. Anticipate wildlife when driving in rural areas, and anticipate domestic pets in urban settings.
Keep an eye out for road signs which alert drivers to when there is a higher risk of encountering a particular animal on a particular stretch of road. There are signs warning drivers of wild horses, migratory toads, and farm animals like sheep and cattle, among many others.
In 2019, the British government unveiled a new traffic road sign featuring a hedgehog. As well as protecting hedgehogs - whose population continues to dwindle - these signs are also intended to warn drivers of other small wild animals in that area, such as squirrels and otters.
It's not just small animals we need to stay vigilant for, around two million free roaming deer reside in the UK and they can often wander onto roads. Keep an eye out for signs in hotspots.
If you’re driving in the dark, use full-beam headlights when you can as they’ll illuminate the eyes of deer and other animals. But, if you do see a deer on the road you should dip your headlights as they may be startled and freeze on the spot. Never use full beam if there are cars ahead of you, who can be blinded by your lights in their mirrors, or in to oncoming traffic.
Should you wish to erect your own warning sign, you must first check with your local authority and the landowner as there are particular rules to erecting signs in terms of location, as well as rules on what is considered a dangerous distraction to drivers. UK residents can find their local authority here. You can also speak to your county councils Highway department who can talk you through potentially putting in a request for signage.
- Minimalize your distractions from passengers, food, and accessories like phones. If your full attention is on the road, you'll be more likely to spot approaching animals with your peripheral vision.
- Be aware of your surroundings, and always expect the unexpected.
- Always obey the speed limit and adapt speed to conditions, such as weather or lighting.
- Increase alertness and reduce speed at night. People overdrive their headlights — meaning, they are driving too fast to stop in the distance covered by their headlights.
- Don't try to predict animal movement, slow down immediately if you spot an animal near the roadside.
- Know and feel comfortable in your car. Be familiar with things such as your instrument panel so you know instantly what to press in emergency situations to alert other drivers, as well as your lights different settings so you can adjust them for better visibility. Being comfortable with your car's ability when steering, breaking and manoeuvring, along with with your car controls, means you can react faster and feel less panicked and overwhelmed in emergency situations.
- If you thought you saw movement under a parked car or near the roadside in your peripheral vision, you probably did. Same with eye shine when driving at night.
- Get in the habit of scanning the roadside as you drive, especially in built up areas with parked cars and/or bushes.
- Check for oncoming vehicles and, if possible, drive more central away from parked cars.
To find out more about supporting your local wildlife centre to enable them to continue the amazing work they do, visit the One Voice for Animals appeal which was set up at the start of the pandemic to help raise funds for rescues who were struggling as a result of the current global crisis.