What to Do If You Hit A Dog While Driving Your Car.


Hitting a dog, (or any animal come to that), while driving a car will be a devastating experience for any driver. Dogs can escape from their gardens, wriggle out of their collars, or simply disobey their owner’s cries to come back. What should you do if you hit a dog while driving and what does the law have to say?  Hopefully, it will never happen, but Holidays4Dogs investigates where you stand legally and what to do if you accidentally hit a dog while driving.

While it’s easy to say; if the worst happens, try and keep calm.  Stop your car and park it where it won’t cause further hazard. Breath deeply and try and take stock of the situation.

What the law says.

If you hit an animal in your car that is covered by The Road Traffic Act 1988 you must pull over. Traffic accidents involving animals must be reported to the police within 24 hours. Ideally, this should be as soon as possible after the accident.

Animals covered by the Act are; – dogs, horses, goats, pigs, cattle, sheep, donkeys, mules and pigs.  If you hit any of these animals you must report it straight away. This is undoubtedly upsetting. However, the animal’s welfare is the responsibility of the owner. Under UK law animals must not stray onto the public highway.

The Road Traffic Act does not mention cats, foxes, deer or other wildlife. Therefore, drivers are not required to report accidents involving these animals. However, hitting any animal is equally harrowing for drivers.

What to do if you hit a dog.

The first thing to do is make sure your car is not causing an obstruction. Turn on your hazard lights. Make sure that neither yourself, or other passengers have sustained any injuries.

If the dog is wearing a collar and identification, (this is law) and you are able to safely approach the dog, try and ascertain the owner’s details.  Do be aware, however, that an injured and frightened animal is more likely to bite – so do be cautious. You will need to consider the owner if you have hit their pet. The owner may be suffering from distress. Try to stay as calm as possible yourself.

If you are unable to trace the owner and the animal needs urgent veterinary attention, the police can provide details of local veterinary centres, or you could call the RSPCA.  You will not be liable for the cost of veterinary fees – this is the owner’s responsibility along with potential costs to repair any damage to your vehicle. If it is safe and possible to do so, you can remove the animal to the side of the road. Report any cases of deceased animals to the local council.

You should inform your insurance provider of any accident. If you need to make a claim for damage, you may be covered for accidents involving animals.

Final thoughts.

It is a horrible experience running into any animal while driving a vehicle. Animals can be unpredictable, so it is always sensible to exercise caution when driving near livestock.  Driving well within the speed limit and taking note of warning signs, will help limit accidents.