Driving a car comes with many hazards, but some of those hazards have to do with other creatures on the road as opposed to the people inside the vehicle. No one wants to think about accidentally hitting an animal, but accidents happen. Animals like deer are especially prone to jumping out unexpectedly or crossing the road at night. If you do ever strike an animal while driving, it’s important to remain calm and follow basic steps to ensure your safety, the safety of the animal and of other drivers on the road.
1. Stop Immediately
Do not leave the scene after striking the animal. Even if the animal is beyond help, it is illegal to leave the scene according to the 1988 Road Traffic Act. This act covers certain animals such as dogs, cattle, sheep, pigs, donkeys and other common farm animals.
Even if an animal is not covered, such as a cat, it’s important to stop and see if the animal is alive. For large animals, it’s especially important to make sure the animal isn’t left in the road to damage another unsuspecting vehicle.
Put your hazards on your vehicle to warn drivers behind you that you’ve stopped.
2. Inspect the Animal
Observe the animal from a safe distance. Wild animals especially tend to carry diseases that can pass to humans, so don’t touch the animal with bare hands. Watch to see if the animal is breathing or moving. If the animal has a collar, it is likely someone’s outdoor or runaway pet.
If the animal is awake and moving, be very careful. Injured animals often lash out when they’re in pain. For dogs, crouch down to their level and offer a closed fist for them to smell. If they don’t growl or raise their lip, attempt to touch beneath their chin. Check tags on collars for contact information.
3. Call the Correct Party
First and foremost, it’s crucial to get the pet medical assistance as soon as possible. It’s always a good idea to be aware of the nearest 24-hour vets around you, but sometimes these accidents happen when you’re away from home.
You can call the police and notify them, and they will give you contact information for an emergency vet nearby that can assist you. In the case of an animal protected by the Road Traffic Act, police need to be contacted immediately. They can also assist with other wild animals or provide the correct contact information.
After medical attention is received, or if the animal passes away at the scene, contact the number on the tags to let the pet’s owner know. If the animal has no tags, a vet can tell you whether the pet is chipped or not. Vets will then be able to contact rescues or shelters to take the pet after it has received treatment.
4. Evaluate the Vehicle Damage
Large animals such as deer and horses have been known to total vehicles. After making sure you and your passengers are safe, as well as taking the steps above, it’s important to evaluate the damage of your vehicle. It may not be safe to drive after an accident with a large animal. Once the correct steps are taken, call your insurance agency to notify them of the accident.
It is recommended that you have the damage appraised by an expert before filing a claim to make sure that paying the deductible on your car insurance policy won’t be more than the cost of fixing the damages out of pocket.
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