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Created on 04.10.2019

Watch out! Wild times in road traffic

In autumn there is an increase in wild animals crossing at dusk. What can motorists do to prevent accidents with wildlife? And what should you do if, despite all caution, an accident does occur?

“In Switzerland, around 20,000 accidents involving wildlife are reported every year,” says Samuel Furrer, Head of the Wildlife Department and Specialist Unit at Swiss Animal Protection SAP. Because when searching for food or partners, animals are always forced to cross roads. Their core hours of activity are in the evening and at night. It is therefore particularly dangerous in autumn after the clocks go back, when it suddenly gets darker earlier. “Generally though, you can find wild animals on the roads anywhere and at any time,” adds the expert. Therefore caution is always advisable.

How to avoid accidents with wild animals

According to Furrer, you should take heed of the following advice in order to avoid accidents:

  • At dawn and dusk, always drive with the lights on and especially along fields, hedges and forest edges with the utmost attention
  • Reduce your speed, especially where there are warning signs and in residential areas; the danger is particularly great at night, as animals stand still on the road, dazzled by the headlights
  • Keep to the left of the lane as far as possible, and keep an eye on the right-hand roadside
  • If you see animals on or beside the road, immediately switch on the hazard lights, switch to dipped beam, and either drive past very slowly or wait until the animals have crossed the road
  • Continue to drive slowly; more animals may follow

Act immediately and appropriately

“If, despite all precautions, an accident involving a wild animal occurs, appropriate action must be taken immediately,” says Furrer, listing the most important steps:

  1. Stop immediately and switch on the hazard warning lights
  2. Secure the accident site with a warning triangle
  3. Call the police (telephone 117)
  4. Under no circumstances approach the injured animal; this leads to further distress
  5. Wait in the car until the police and the gamekeeper or hunter arrive at the scene of the accident

If you don’t report the accident, you will liable for prosecution

“It is important to report accidents involving animals. Because while most drivers get away with a fright, for most animals it means horrible agony and usually death,” Furrer explains. Leaving an injured animal lying around is not a trivial offence. Not only are you guilty of cruelty to animals, but hit-and-runs can also be punished with a fine of up to CHF 10,000. Furthermore, damage to the vehicle will only be compensated if the accident is immediately reported to the police and logged. The prerequisite for this is partial or fully comprehensive insurance. Furthermore, in the event of collision with animals, strict liability applies. This means that the motorist – or their liability insurer – must assume part of the liability, even if they are not at fault.

About our expert

Samuel Furrer is Head of the Wildlife department and Specialist Unit at Swiss Animal Protection SAP.

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