Animals on the road? Here's what to do

Published on: 11 December 2015

Animals on the road - here's what to do

With many of us driving to our favourite holiday destinations, motorists need to be aware of the dangers they may face on South Africa’s roads - and how to avoid them.

While other drivers and pedestrians are perhaps the biggest source of concern, drivers must also be aware of potholes and other obstructions – and you also need to keep a careful lookout for animals wandering into the path of your vehicles. At all times, drivers should be alert and vigilant to these and other potential threats.

Never swerve

Swerving is the natural response to a sudden obstruction, particularly if it is a person or domestic pet which is in the path of your vehicle. The sudden swerve might save the cat, dog or sheep, but it could very well result in injury or death to you, your passengers or, if you swerve into the path of an oncoming vehicle, to its occupants. Swerving at high speed is a major cause of ‘rollover’ accidents – rolling at high speed is extremely dangerous for obvious reasons.

Rather release the accelerator, apply the brakes as hard as you can while being mindful of any traffic behind you, and keep steering your course, even if this means hitting the animal, and even if the animal is a large one.

Stay alert

South Africans have to contend with a wide range of different animals which may possibly wander onto the road. Take some precautions to minimise the chance of driving into one:

  • Watch the road signs – the warnings are there for a reason
  • Be alert and make sure your full attention is on the road
  • Always obey the speed limit
  • Slow down, especially at night and in unfamiliar areas, giving you more time to react
  • Scan the area and be especially watchful on and near farm roads
  • Never swerve! Rather brake; hoot if you have time to scare the animal away
  • If safe to do so, steer around the animal. Be aware of surrounding traffic

If you do happen to hit an animal, notify the police and take as many photos of the scene as you can. Report the damage, if there is any, to your insurance company.