How would you react if you hit an animal whilst driving?
No one wants to think about how they would react or feel if an animal runs out whilst they’re driving. Unfortunately, this does happen and it turns out – happens more often than we think, with almost 1 in 5 drivers saying they had hit an animal when they were driving*. Even just a quick shout around the office here at Marmalade, and we found that many of us had encountered an incident involving an animal when driving one way or another. We’ve pulled together a few stories on how people have reacted – and we recommend you read our guide on what to do, just in case.
Coral and the unlucky Bunny
“I hit a little bunny rabbit once (the cute white ones!). He ran out in the middle of a 60mph road and there was no way I could stop or swerve so I didn’t hit him - because he ran out too close to me, it would have been more dangerous for me to try and avoid him. I heard and felt the thud on the front wheel but there was no second thud on the back wheel, then I looked back and saw him hopping away! I had only passed my driving test about 4 months beforehand and this really shook me up because I’d never hit anything before. I didn’t know what to do but there was nothing I could do because he’d already hopped away! I felt SO guilty about it, but I think (hope) he was OK after!”
Natasha's Fox nightmare
“I had passed my test on the Monday and on the Friday night decided to brave the Forty Foot river bank near where I lived to visit a friend. Coming home, the road was quiet and pitch black. I noticed last minute an animal of some kind poke its head out of the bushes on the other side of the road so I started to slow down because I was too scared to slam my brakes on next to the river – but it was too late… it was a fox and I had hit it! I stopped under a street light next to where it happened to make sure the car was ok because I could hear a scraping noise… it had ripped the corner of my bumper off and cracked my headlight.
I felt absolutely devastated because as I was checking the car, I saw a bigger fox appear from the bushes - I quickly realised I had hit and killed her baby. She went over to the fox on the road, picked it up and ran away with it! I sobbed all the way home, the next day and even now I get tearful when I think about it. The outcome was expensive (car repairs) but now, on a dark road late at night I do less than the speed limit because I am so scared something like a deer will run out and write my car off - and my conscience wouldn’t be able to cope with that!”
Oh Deer, Scott
"When I was at university, I pulled the short straw on a night out and ended up being the designated driver. On the way home along dark country lanes, early hours of the morning, with 3 drunk friends in the car, I saw a deer on the right-hand side of the road. I took action and moved over to the left so I would avoid it, however it shot out over the road and I hit it. I stopped the car and got out to look. I know this isn’t needed by law, but I had to check the animal and the car damage. I could see straight away that the car was badly dented at the front – all the headlights had been smashed in! I looked over to the deer and could clearly see that its neck had been broken but it was still trying to move. I knew at this point I was stuck between doing the humane thing - or making a run for it in pure panic. Long story short, I felt horrible, my parent’s car was ruined, and my friends had no idea it was happening!"
Bob’s bad luck
Bob’s story highlights what can happen if you make the wrong choice in a moment on the roads. Fortunately, no-one was hurt, but it was a very important lesson for him and may help anyone else who is faced with a similar situation.
“I was driving down the parkway towards town enjoying my music. Suddenly from the right-hand side, a dog ran in front of my car, out of nowhere! My first instinct was to swerve out of the way, so I turned my steering wheel left as soon as I could. Luckily there was no one in the left-hand lane as I ended up slamming into the outer reservation and then the force of the hit took me back into the central reservation! All the while the dog had run off and I had no idea where it had gone.
After slamming into the central reservation time stood still for a while. I couldn’t open my door as it was jammed shut so I desperately unbuckled my seatbelt and jumped over the passenger side. I think my adrenaline kicked in because I was standing in the middle of a busy dual carriageway shaking. Luckily passersby had stopped to see if I was okay and the police and ambulance were called.
After calming down slightly and speaking to my parents on the phone I was assessed by the ambulance and taken home.
Unfortunately, it had caused a massive tail back with the traffic which made it to the local radio traffic report (just what I needed!) One thing that surprised me was that when I was speaking to the police officers about the incident they said the best thing that could have happened was to hit the dog. In my head, I thought there was no way I could have done that, but they explained this outcome would have caused less risk to other road users.
It has been a few years now since this accident and I am very lucky. It has also made me more vigilant on the roads especially roads that are prone to having animals nearby.”
It’s clear from these different stories that we can all react in different ways when something happens that is out of our control. It’s also difficult to know the laws around this, and what you should and shouldn’t do in different situations. For more information on this, check out our guide on what to do if you hit an animal.
*Marmalade Twitter poll. 414 votes, 18% have hit an animal when driving.