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Cow on rural roads

What to do if you hit an animal whilst driving

Chloe Martell profile

Chloe Martell

January 15, 2020

Driving advice 4 min read

Sometimes a car accident is not always classed as an incident with a person. If you’re driving on a country road it could easily involve an animal. These situations can be very upsetting… but according to, the law states that you must stop at the scene for the animals listed below and report it the Police whether they survive or not.

  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Cattle (Cows)
  • Goats
  • Donkeys & Mules
  • Pigs
  • Sheep

Once the Police are aware and the owners have been notified, you are then free to leave the scene. However, if the owner is untraceable you must still report what’s happened to your local Police station within 24hrs of the incident taking place. The Police should also be able to give a list of local veterinary clinics if the animal needs urgent care and is in a critical condition.

If you hit a cat

As horrific as the idea is of hitting someone’s pet whether it be a cat, dog or rabbit. You are not required legally to stop at the scene if you hit a cat… but if you do, and it has a chance of survival, the best thing you can do is:

  • Move the animal to safety (if it can be moved) and ideally take it to the nearest vet
  • Notify the owner as soon as possible if the cat is microchipped
  • If the cat cannot be identified at the vets, tell your local council and file a missing pet report

Other animals you aren’t required to stop for

Animals you do not need to report are: deer, badgers, foxes, birds, rabbits and other woodland creatures. The most humane thing to do would be to stop, but these are such common occurrences that really cannot be helped most of the time, especially if the animal is hit at high speeds on a motorway for example.

If you do stop, the RSPCA can provide some helpful advice and again, suggest some local vets if there is a chance it can be saved. You will not be responsible for any fees or costs, but it is highly advised to approach the injured animal with caution if you plan to take it to a veterinary clinic, as not only could you put yourself at risk from other traffic, the animal could be extremely distressed and try to harm you.

If you come across a dead animal in the road, it is the responsibility of your local council to remove it, so you do not need to take any action.

What you can do to prevent hitting an animal whilst driving

small bird resting in the middle of the road

Ensure you stick to the speed limits on roads at all times. Try to pay attention to road signs that state that deer and other creatures may be likely to cross or may be living close by, and take extra care during the early mornings and late evenings when they are likely to be foraging for food.

For more helpful advice and links see below. This applies to England and Wales only, for information on what to do in these sorts of events in Scotland and Northern Ireland – contact your local council in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Report an injured animal

Report an injured animal to the RSPCA in England or Wales or its equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Telephone: 0300 1234 999
Find out about call charges

Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)
Telephone: 03000 999 999
Find out about call charges

Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)
Telephone: 028 3025 1000
Find out about call charges

Pesticide poisonings

Call the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme if you think an animal has been poisoned by pesticides.

Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme
Telephone: 0800 321 600
Find out about call charges

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Chloe Martell profile

By Chloe Martell

'As a new driver, I'm so eager to share my driving journey with you all - from when I was a learner, going through my test and all the aspects of my driving life now, including my love of cars!'  See more posts by Chloe

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