Should motorists stop if they hit a cat while driving?

Should motorists stop if they hit a cat while driving?
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - If a motorist knocks down an animal while driving, should he stop to help it?

The law gets tricky if it is a cat.

Enacted on Jan 1, 1963, Singapore's Road Traffic Act defines an "animal" as "any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog". Motorists are required to stop and help these animals if they knock them down.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said: "The specific provision in the Road Traffic Act relating to animals had been confined to farm animals of commercial value. The original intent of the legislation was to ensure restitution to their owners should an accident occur."

Mr Lee was addressing a question from Mr Louis Ng, MP for Nee Soon GRC, who asked if MHA will consider updating and aligning the definition of "animals" in both acts to ensure that there is alignment of legislation across the statutes.

In response, Mr Lee said that MHA intends to review the definition of "animals" in the Road Traffic Act, and also consider any amendment in the context of road safety, especially the safety of the motorist and other road users.

Currently, the definitions of "animals" in the Road Traffic Act and the Animals and Birds Act are not scoped in the same way.

The Animals and Birds Act seeks to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases through animals, control the movement of animals, prevent cruelty to animals, and safeguard the general welfare of animals in Singapore.

Meanwhile the primary intent of the Road Traffic Act is to ensure the safety of road users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

So should all motorists stop and attend to animals in case of an accident?

"They should stop, if it is safe to do so. If the motorist requires assistance in attending to the animal, he can contact the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals," Mr Lee said.

debwong@sph.com.sg

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