What should I do if I've hit an animal while driving?

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If you compile a list of top 10 things no driver wants to experience, there’s a good chance that an accident with an animal will rank fairly high on that list. 

After all, hitting a living, breathing creature can be a harrowing experience. We may live in a mostly urbanised setting, but there’s still the risk of colliding with wild animals when driving through forested areas or someone’s pet when driving through housing estates.

Our law dictates that you are to assist any animal in the event of a collision. But that hasn’t always been the case – up to 2020, horses, cattle, ass, mules, sheep, pigs, goats and dogs are the only animals that you actually had to assist. 

So just what do you have to do if you actually hit an animal whilst behind the wheel? 

Stop the car and remain at the scene

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You’re bound to be in some kind of shock. It helps to try and remain calm – deep breaths will do you some good here. 

Thoughts collected, do proceed to check on the animal, and assess if there’s any damage to your vehicle. 

Contact the relevant authorities

You’ll have to contact different parties depending on the state of the animal. Where applicable, you’ll have to make a ‘reasonable attempt’ to contact the owner of the animal if it belongs to someone. Do furnish your personal particulars to them as well. If you are unable to do so, do report the accident to the police within 24 hours.

If the animal is alive, you may contact Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) at 9783 7782. They are best positioned to provide medical intervention to the injured animal.

If the animal is dead, you’ll have to contact the National Environment Agency at 1800 2255 632 to remove its carcass. 

In the event that the incident has resulted in a significant obstruction to traffic, you’ll have to contact either the LTA or the Traffic Police for help with Traffic Enforcement. 

What not to do

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In the event of serious injury or major damage to another vehicle or roadside structure, vehicles should only be moved to facilitate the extrication of injured persons and/or animals and to avoid holding up traffic. 

Consider also taking as many photographs of the scene as possible. This is especially important if your policy covers damage caused by accidents involving animals. Within 24 hours, the case must be reported to both your insurer and the Traffic Police for any claims to be valid. 

Legal repercussions 

Drivers who fail to render assistance to an animal after an accident will be fined up to $3,000 fine, subject to a year in jail, or be at risk of both.

This article was first published in Motorist.