Insurer Admiral has reported a spike in cases of drivers hitting wildlife during lockdown.
While it remains a relatively small issue, data from the insurer shows that the number of claims for hitting an animal has more than doubled, from 0.7 to two per cent of all incidents since March 23.
Deer are the most common victims but Admiral has also see a rise in claims for damage caused by collisions with pheasants.
Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral commented: “There have been several reports of more wild animals venturing onto the quieter roads and these could be catching drivers by surprise. There’s a risk that incidents involving wildlife could increase further when people venture to rural areas and beauty spots as lockdown measures are relaxed.”
How to deal with hitting an animal
It’s a sickening feeling - that moment when an animal runs out if front of your car and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. But once you’ve got over the shock of the collision, what action should you take?
Under the Road Traffic Act (1988), you must report to police any collision with certain types of animal. This includes dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys and mules.
However, you don’t legally have to report accidents involving other animals such as cats, badgers and foxes.
Strangely, deer also aren’t on that list, despite the fact an estimated 74,000 are involved in collisions with cars every year.
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 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.
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.
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.
How to avoid a collision in the first place
Lorna Connelly, from Admiral has this advice to offer to help avoid a collision in the first place “If you see deer warning signs or are travelling through a forested stretch of road, be sure to check your speed and stay alert. If you see deer, dip your headlights as this may cause them to ‘freeze’ so you should always be prepared to stop. If you do have to stop, it’s important to use your hazard warning lights to alert other drivers. Don’t be tempted to approach an injured deer as it could be dangerous, instead you should notify the police.”