What to do in case of a crossing animal when you are driving in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
animal crossing the road

MADRID – It could happen to you, you are driving on the highway or another main road in Spain and suddenly an animal is crossing the road. Therefore, the Spanish National Road Traffic Agency, DGT, explains what to do in such a situation. 

The reason for the campaign is that the number of traffic accidents involving animals increased by 40% in 2021 compared to 2019 (without taking into account less traffic due to the Covid pandemic) and by 60% compared to the year before. This is apparent from a report by the international insurance group AXA about collisions with animals. 

Collisions with wild boars are the most common accidents in this regard. Geographically, most collisions take place in the region of Castile and Leon, Galicia and Catalonia. 

DGT recommendations 

On its social media, the DGT explains to us that, when you have enough time to respond, you should do the following: 

  • honk loudly 
  • Reduce your speed 
  • Turn on your high beam when it’s dark. Some animals become paralysed with fright when blinded and that makes it easier to avoid them

When it comes to small games crossing the road 

  • Avoid a collision without suddenly turning the steering wheel or braking violently 
  • And if it’s impossible to avoid a collision, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to avoid losing control of your car

When it comes to the big game crossing the road 

Also in this case try to avoid the animal without suddenly jerking the steering wheel You can then lose control of your car.

  • Release the accelerator pedal and hold your steering wheel firmly 
  • Try not to hit the animal head-on. If you do, there is a danger it can come in through your windshield 

If you have not been able to avoid a collision

  • Clearly indicate the location of the accident to other motorists
  • Put on a reflective vest
  • Immediately notify the emergency services
  • Be aware that even if the animal is injured, it can still be dangerous
  • Do not touch the animal without gloves, you risk getting infected

Means to prevent a collision 

The technological tools of modern cars are crucial in this case. The emergency brakes, the cross traffic alert or the night cameras with infrared can make all the difference. But the best way to avoid accidents is still to stay alert yourself, both for what’s on the road and what’s next to it. 

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Who is to blame for an accident involving animals on the road? 

But who is legally responsible for these kinds of accidents? Is it always the driver or are there exceptions? And how can you act if you have such an accident? 

Affected by wildlife 

These are species that can be hunted. These are classified into large game and small game, depending on the size of the animal. In general, problems occur in species such as rabbits, foxes, deer or wild boars. 

See also: These are the most curious traffic violations in Spain 

“The responsibility for running over these species is regulated in the traffic law, where it is attributed to the driver of the vehicle,” explains Jordi Marí, ARAG lawyer specialising in road traffic safety. However, there are some cases where, instead of the driver, the responsibility is transferred to a third party: 

  • To the holder of the hunting use (usually the hunter) or, failing that, the owner of the land. In this case, when the accident is derived from the collective hunting of a large game species on the same day or twelve hours before the accident. 
  • To the owner of the public road where the accident occurs, if it is caused by not repairing the fencing within the stipulated time or by not placing signs for stray animals in areas with a high accident rate. “The police report is especially important for determining the origin of the animal that caused the accident,” says ARAG’s lawyer. 

Accidents with pets 

In the case of a pet hit, and unless the vehicle’s driver is proven to be at fault, the responsibility rests with the animal’s owner, who must keep it under control at all times. Marí stresses that “it is important that the animal can be identified through a microchip or tattoo that can hold the owner accountable.” 

See also: Don’t feel like flying? Choose a car holiday to Spain 

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