Keep an eye out for four-legged pedestrians

Not so lucky rabbits are the most common road-kill after pets, and the AA is reminding motorists driving on rural routes this summer to keep an eye out for all creatures great and small.

Its latest motor insurance poll reveals that approximately four out of 10 drivers in Ireland have run over a pet or other non-domesticated animal at some point while driving.

Man’s best friend topped the AA’s poll as the animal most likely to fall foul of traffic. After this, cats were identified as the second most common animal to be knocked down by motorists, something which comes as little surprise to AA Patrols which are frequently called to free cats that have trapped themselves under the wheel arches and engine bays of members’ cars.

Woodland creatures most prone to venturing onto roadways and into harm’s way would seem to be rabbits, foxes, badgers and hedgehogs, in that order, according to the findings of the AA’s poll. A third of the motorists had accidentally struck a rabbit.

Worryingly the AA reports that it is not just small animals that motorists are hitting in this country. Some 130 of those polled during the AA survey indicated they had struck a sheep - 118 a deer, 83 a cow, 34 a horse, and 15 a donkey.

“It’s not only conservation that drivers need to worry about when it comes to keeping their eyes peeled for animals when driving in rural settings or known animal habitats,” says John Farrell, director of AA Insurance. “A collision with a larger animal, such as a horse or deer, particularly when travelling at higher speeds, can lead to a huge amount of damage, serious injury, and even fatalities. One AA member, while unhurt, reported causing €4,000 worth of damage to their car having struck a deer in Phoenix Park. Another said they faced €600 worth of repairs having sadly hit a badger.”

The AA’s advice to motorists is to slow down and proceed with caution if they see live stock or other large animals on or near the road. It also encourages motorists to be extra vigilant where animal crossing signs are in place and to avoid throwing food out of their car windows, which is likely to entice animals.

Unsurprisingly Dublin residents were least likely to have struck an animal, significantly trailing other counties. The highest number of incidents per capita were recorded in counties Leitrim, Offaly and Longford.

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