Road Safety News

Should drivers be made to report cat collisions?

Wednesday 9th August 2017

Image: hkase via Flickr.

Campaigners are calling for a change in law which would require drivers who knock down cats to report the incident. (Transport Network)

Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 drivers are required to stop and report an accident involving specified animals including horses, cattle, sheep or dogs, but not cats or wild animals.

However, campaign group Cats Matter is calling for it to be made illegal for drivers to leave the scene without reporting that they have hit a cat.

The issue has been the subject of a number of petitions in recent years, including one in 2015 that gained 115,000 signatures on the website - and one set up this year by Rebecca Leigh, whose own cat, Tigger, was knocked down and left for dead.

Ms Leigh, whose petition has nearly 5,000 signatures, called for a ‘Tigger law' in memory of her cat.

The DfT told Transport Network that it understands the distress that can be caused when cats are run over and explained that the distinction between animals arises from the status of some as working animals rather than as domestic pets.

Although there is no obligation to report all animal deaths on roads, the police advise drivers that, if possible, they should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals, such as cats, and advise them of the situation.

In addition, Rule 286 of The Highway Code also advises drivers to report any accident involving an animal to the police.

Category: General news.



Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

Speak for yourself Pat - the instinct for most of us would be concern for the welfare of the animals - not ourselves. Those of us who do care would instinctively take the same avoiding action whether it's an animal or human. Defensive driving, once again, is the key. The motto is: be prepared and keep watching the hedgerows and the footways.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (17)

Cats are the same as dogs and to be honest other animals. If you strike one/kill it then report it.
M McHale

Agree (12) | Disagree (16)

In answer to the headline "Should drivers be made to report cat collisions?" - Not in my opinion. Mind you I have never seen two or more cats collide!!!
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (1) | Disagree (4)

Sorry. This is a ridiculous petition. Cats are feral and unrestrained, apparently that's what Humans like about them. They are less intelligent than say, dogs or pigs but humans imbue them with attributes out with their importance. If you want your psychopathic pet to be safe, put it on a lead.
Gail D McMillan

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

...or we can take them to the vets Robert! Your American friend doesn't sound like a particularly careful driver anyway - are there many hedgerows where he lives? I'm convinced some people must have tunnel vision.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Just highlighting different attitudes within society Elaine - evident in some many areas - none more so than how people drive and in their respect for the law generally.

Referring to the second paragraph in the article, it is already a requirement to report accidents to certain animals anyway, so I don't know why you keep using the word 'insane' - there's worse things to get worked up about. Unlike wildlife, cats have owners just like the other animals mentioned, so it does seem logical, although as I said earlier, making it a legal requirement is probably not going to change things.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

I presume Tigger the cat was insured; and as such, if the driver had stopped and reported the cat strike, the driver would have been able to claim off the cat's insurance policy?
David Weston, Corby

Agree (11) | Disagree (9)

I'm sure some drivers do try harder than others though Elaine and it affects some more than others, however in a society where hit and runs (with humans) are not unknown, let alone unreported damage to parked vehicles and property, there's even less chance of laws for animal collisions to be respected.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

I have a friend in Idaho who carries a large knife in the back of his pick up in order to quickly put out of their misery any animal he hits and only injures. There is room in the back of the pick up for any deer that find themselves in this situation. Of course UK law forbids carrying weapons to do this act of kindness so the animals have to suffer if they are only injured.
Robert Bolt St Albans

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

Definitely yes - but in practice, as a law I fear it would inevitably be disrespected and ignored by many to the same extent that some existing right and sensible laws are now, such is the attitude of many in our society.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

Definitely no - it "just" a cat. Emotional attachment to animals is not sufficient justification to warrant such a change in the law.
Pat, Wales

Agree (21) | Disagree (18)

Hugh, I have no idea of what you were trying to convey. My point is simple - it would only work if the thought police took over. I would propose that we are all microchipped, not only dogs and cows, but cats, humans, badgers - the lot. But I suspect that even that wouldn't work, because the government has cut down on police - so there wouldn't be anybody there to monitor if we break the law..... Of course you could always cull the cats - like badgers - that's what they do in some areas of Australia, because they are a pest. One man's trash is another man's treasure....

Elaine Hardy - Europe

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

Hugh, It can be a long way to a vet in Idaho, road kill is often the better option. Not many hedges there but plenty of forest. I once had a nasty moment when a Mule Deer leapt out of the forest and nearly landed on the Mustang I was driving. Managed to avoid it but could have had bad consequences for both the deer and the Mustang. Fortunately cats are smaller than many of the animals you find in Idaho
Robert Bolt Saint Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Not all animals run out into the road into the direction of traffic, Hugh. Some have the audacity to run out perpendicular into traffic, perhaps even to the point where a driver is unable to safely perform any sort of avoiding action because it all happens a bit too quickly.

Within the "thinking distance" zone or whatever it's called.

(as my car has found out)
David Weston, Corby

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

I used to have a garden full of birds, a frog and a hedgehog. Then my neighbour acquired a cat ...
Andrew Fraser

Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

CHAMPS DG. Cattle, horses, ass, mules pigs, sheep, dogs and goats. These are all working animals which require reporting, possibly because they have some financial worth to the owner! Also the responsibility as Honor states is that of the owner. Avoidance action may put others at risk and one has to take into account of damage to ones vehicle so perhaps the 20 MPH in residential areas may help. As to not leaving the scene until reporting the incident I would find it difficult to waste police time at night especially when I do not know who owns the cat or where they live. (assuming I know the owner I may have to leave the scene to tell them!). Lets put our efforts to protecting humans of all ages first.
Peter City of Westminster

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

My understanding in the case of dogs - as an example, is that if the dog damages the vehicle, the owner of the dog (which has been involved in the collision) can be liable for damages, so presumably this would apply to cats - using your parameter. A dog is microchipped by law - this is so the owner can be found and either informed of the dog's death or be prosecuted for allowing the dog on a public road off a lead.

All things being equal, it would seem reasonable that cats should be microchipped and put on a lead.

In other words, the owners of these animals have a responsibility to ensure that they do not run loose on public roads.

Some pet owners - that would include horses, donkeys, dogs etc have insurance. In that respect perhaps the government could perhaps consider compulsory insurance for dogs - and if insanity prevails, extend it to cats.

With regards reporting animals - the list can be found here: The Highway Code is a guideline not a rule that is covered in the road traffic act.

To change the Road Traffic Act is what this discussion is about, however, it would also require a change to the Animals Act 1971, this is where the definition of animals can be found. Cats are excluded. Within the Animals Act, animals are classed as either a dangerous or not dangerous species.

Dogs and cats are usually animals that have an owner, if a traffic accident can be proven to be the clear liability of the animal's owner through their negligent action - then the driver may have a case to claim for compensation.

Finally, while solicitors suggest that the driver should if possible report the dead animal to the police, this is mainly so the dead animal (cat, dog, deer etc) is not left to rot on the side of the road - i.e. a health and safety matter.

I hope this clarifies the matter.
Elaine Hardy - Europe

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

Honour has hit the nub of the matter (if nubs can be hit - pass the dictionary please). Dogs must have a collar and identity disc* and be kept under control. So if a dog is loose on the road and results, being hit or not, in a collision - then there is a possible claim against the owner, and other considerations. I think similar identification and control requirements relate to livestock.

Unless the same obligations are placed on the owner of a cat, then the expectation of reporting any collision is inequitable.

*all dogs in Wales born recently are supposed to be microchipped before sale.
Mark, Caerphilly

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

Normal instinctive responses are not always the best in every situation. I hope, like you Hugh, through defensive driving techniques I will not be put to the test. Whilst I would be willing, if required, to risk putting myself in harm's way to avoid a small child (other humans available) I have conditioned my automatic reflexes over the years to put my own safety over that of a small animal. Seems a perfectly sensible way to prioritise risk to me and for me. It has served me well for over 1 million driving and riding miles but I'm happy for you to have a different view.
Pat, Wales

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

With so many rabbits and other small animals scurrying around the roads where I previously lived I noticed many drivers making some seriously dangerous avoidance manoeuvres. Sometimes putting other human road users at risk in the process. In such situations it is probably best not to have knee-jerk avoidance reactions, when confronted by small animals in the road, whether wild or pet. Dogs on the other hand tend to be bigger and collisions with them more potentially dangerous to the driver or rider. Choices and consequences.
Pat, Wales

Agree (18) | Disagree (5)

The crucial difference in all this is that the owner of a cat is not legally liable for the cats actions whereas owners are held responsible for a dog, horse or escaped livestock. Collisions with cats are not reportable because there is no legal purpose or remedy and the cat, as every cat owner knows, is an independent animal that is generally not trained and travels unescorted. To obtain owner liability, do we want all cats to be confined to houses or required to be kept on leads so that owners can then be held liable for what their cat does or of it escapes and causes a crash? Obtaining insurance cover could be interesting.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

But you do understand the insanity of this debate?

Cat, pigeon, fox, hedgehog, badger - it's called "Road Kill" and as tragic as it might be for the owner of the domestic animal, imagine what it might be for the baby foxes waiting for their mother to come back to feed them instead of lying on a road dead.

Cats will do what cats do - they wander, they cross roads, they get into places they shouldn't be. And if the driver wasn't even aware that they had hit a cat - or indeed any other animal? I recall that once I think I hit a fox that ran across the road (an A road) - I think, because it was dark and I just wasn't sure. I felt awful - but I couldn't stop and risk the lives of the people in the car and what do you report and who to?

Sorry folks but this is road safety too far.

It's not a perfect world and until such time as vehicles fly - there is nothing that anybody can do apart from feeling sad that it happened.
Elaine Hardy - Europe

Agree (19) | Disagree (4)

Anything which causes drivers to be more vigilant and drive in 'ready to stop' mode is worth considering - if you can learn how to avoid an animal, you can avoid just about everything else on the highway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (21) | Disagree (4)