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Dublin: 15°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

What should you do if you see an animal on the road? Or if you hit one?

Here’s the official advice.

Image: Shutterstock/Marten_House

AUTUMN CAN BE a dangerous season for animals, drivers and car bonnets.

At this time of year, all manner of our furry and feathered friends are getting busy preparing for the winter as well as, eh, just getting busy – October is the start of rutting season when horny deer (sorry) are out looking for a mate.

According to research carried out by AA Ireland, roughly 13 per cent of motorists have been involved in at least one collision with a pet or animal in the last five years. Rabbits, badgers, foxes and birds were the most likely animals to be hit but dogs and cats are also frequent victims.

Furthermore, according to the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, there are around 400 to 500 collisions between motorists and deer each year.

So what can you do to stay safe if an animal darts out in front of your car? 


  • Most animals are active between sunset and midnight, as well as the hours shortly before and after sunrise and this is when most collisions with animals happen. So be extra vigilant around these times. When you see an animal warning sign, reduce your speed and stay alert.
  • If you see green coloured reflections near the roadside slow down as they may be the eyes of a deer reflecting the headlights. Moreover, if you see one deer be aware that more may follow.
  • If you come across a large animal in the road, dip your headlights – the full beam may cause the animal to freeze.
  • Honk your horn. Apparently, one long blast of the car horn will scare deer off the road and honking will also alert other nearby drivers to be vigilant.


If you see an animal brake firmly and calmly and stay in your lane. Don’t veer for deer. Do not swerve to avoid the animal as this puts you and other road users in danger. Slow right down and stop if necessary – use your hazard lights to warn other road users.

If you experience a deer incident or any animal collision, it can be frightening but do try to stay calm. Pull over somewhere safe, put on your hazards to warn other road users and call the local Gardai especially if people are hurt or if the collision is causing a hazard. Do not approach an injured deer as this could be dangerous.

If you hit a farm animal, cat or dog it is classed as damaging someone’s property. You need to stop and inform the Gardai – and in the case of a domestic pet, you need to check for an identity tag and notify the owner immediately if you can.

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Do not touch or pick up the animal unless it is in immediate danger.

The Kildare Animal Foundation offers this advice on its website:

“If you need to move the animal, place it in a quiet, dark and warm place. Then call for help. Offer only water – no other fluids.

Covering an injured animal will help reduce stress and keep it warm, but do not over handle the animal or bird. Put it somewhere quiet, dark and warm. Wild creatures are not calmed by contact with humans. Talking to them and stroking them can only increase their stress.”

If you hit something you can call the Kildare Animal Foundation on 085 8141992, or your local rescue centre. They may be able to do something to help save the animal.

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About the author:

Melanie May  /

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