Three fifths (57%*) of drivers have taken evasive action to avoid a collision with a wild animal on British roads, according to a new study by AA Insurance.
The survey of more than 17,500 people found that most had to slam on the brakes (41%), one in 25 had to swerve (4%) and more than one in 10 had to brake and swerve to avoid hitting an animal (12%).
Unfortunately, more than one in 20 (6%) could not avoid hitting a wild animal, with Northern Ireland the most likely place for an animal to appear out of nowhere (7%), followed by Scotland, Yorkshire & Humberside, East Midlands, Eastern England and the South West (all 6%).
Badgers, foxes and birds
Regrettably, the most common roadkill seen at the roadside by half of drivers was a badger (51%), followed by foxes (48%) and pheasants (38%).
Britain’s feathered friends contributed a rather upsetting menagerie of roadkill which included rare breeds such as; Red Kites, Kestrels, Hawks, Buzzards, Owls and other unidentifiable Birds of Prey.
In further bad news for declining animals, a third (33%) of people saw hedgehogs with three fifths of drivers in the North East seeing a dead hedgehog on the road.
More than 750 drivers saw squashed squirrels, 20 drivers saw sheep and two reported seen cows and even wild boars
Animal claims on the rise
According to figures from AA Insurance, the number of “hit wild animal” claims has risen by 15% over a three-year period, with an average damage claim value of £2,300. However, hitting larger animals like deer has resulted in write-offs due to the levels of damage caused.
Last month, the Department for Transport unveiled a new road sign** advising drivers to look out for smaller animals which often feature high on roadkill statistics.
Janet Connor, managing director for AA Insurance services says; “Britain is blessed to have a variety of wild and wonderful animals, but unfortunately too many are killed in collisions with cars.
“Only 40% of drivers slow down and drive more vigilantly when they see a warning sign. Signs can be an important indication of a potential danger, and drivers should remember that hitting an animal could be a dangerous and costly experience.
“While most drivers will be on the lookout for larger animals like deer and badgers, smaller animals like rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels can cause damage too, as well as adversely affect their population.
“We hope that the new small mammal warning sign revealed by the Department for Transport last month means that drivers will slow down and remember to look out for all creatures great and small.”