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What to do if you hit an animal on Singapore roads
Hitting an animal on the roads is dangerous to yourself, other road users, likely to cause damage to your vehicle, and obviously endangers the animal. Avoiding striking an animal in the first instance is the best insurance.
- Drive carefully in green areas and areas where signposts warn of possible animal sightings.
- If you see an animal on, or by the side of the road, slow down! Animals can be unpredictable and may attempt to escape danger by running in front of your car.
- In emergency situations you may need to brake hard. As long as your car is not very old it likely has anti-lock braking system (ABS). In ABS-equipped cars the fastest way to stop is to stomp on the brake pedal as hard as possible. ABS prevents wheels locking under braking, meaning drivers should be able to control the car without skidding. Be aware that the ABS makes a grinding sound when it is operational – this is nothing to worry about.
- Drivers are advised not to swerve to avoid animals as they may run into other vehicles or road users and lose control of the vehicle. Hitting a large animal may also be life-threatening, in which case swerving may be the only option. Drivers need to be alert and able to make split-second decisions based on the situation in order to maximise the safety of themselves and other road users.
What animals are you likely to encounter on Singapore roads?
News reports on road traffic accidents have recently focused on drivers striking wild boars, but there are numerous other animals drivers may encounter on Singapore roads, including (but not limited to): Domestic pets such as dogs and cats; squirrels; civet cats; pangolins; monkeys; and deer. Be aware that sambar deer, which are endemic to Singapore, can grow to as heavy as 500kg. Hitting an animal that large is likely to cause significant damage to your vehicle as well as endangering lives.
On Malaysian roads you should be prepared to encounter a range of animals ranging from chickens to water buffaloes and even elephants.
Motorists and car accidents with animals. What does the law say?
There is very little official guidance for drivers with relation to animals. According to the Highway Code motorists should go slowly when driving past animals, and give them plenty of room. They should be prepared to stop if necessary or if signalled to do so by other drivers or police.
The government is looking into amending the Road Traffic Act to expand the animals the Act covers (currently horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog are the only animals it defines), and to expand the driver’s obligations in the event of an accident with an animal if it could be reasonably believed to have an owner, and to alert other road users if the injured animal poses a hazard.
Currently the Act stipulates that when an accident occurs between a vehicle and animal the driver is required to ‘take reasonable steps’ to inform the owner of the animal, and to provide the owner with the driver’s particulars, or failing that, to report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
Drivers at the scene of the accident are required to render assistance required by a police officer, or to ‘render such assistance as it may reasonably be in the power of the driver to render’.
If a person has been killed or seriously injured in the accident, or if serious damage has occurred to another vehicle or structure, the vehicles involved must only be moved to extricate people or animals, or to prevent damage or obstruction to the public.
Drivers who fail to stop and attend to injured animals can be fined up to $3,000 or jailed up to a year, or both, while repeat offenders can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to two years, or both.
Here’s what motorists should do if they hit an animal
If you do strike and injure or kill an animal and the scene requires traffic control, you should contact the Land Transport Authority or Traffic Police.
If there is no obstruction to other motorists and the animal is injured the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society has a hotline to rescue the animal: 9783 7782. If the animal is dead, contact the National Environment Agency (1800 2255 632) to remove the carcass.
Get more information on what to do in the event of a road traffic accident.
Road accidents with animals and car insurance
After ensuring it is safe to do so, take photographs of the scene of the accident. They may serve you when claiming on insurance or making police reports.
If you have damaged to your vehicle or caused damage to someone else’s property in the process of hitting an animal, it is important to report the accident both to the Traffic Police and your insurer within 24 hours. Failure to do so may see your insurance company repudiate liability.
Be aware that the level of insurance coverage you selected affects what is covered in the event of hitting an animal. Comprehensive insurance policies give you complete cover – damage to your car, as well as damage to other people’s property or injuries. Third party coverage will pay for damage to other people’s property or personal injury, but not damage to your vehicle.
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