Cat-hit and run must stop, road safety charity warns

IAM Roadsmart calls for cats to be given the same respect as dogs, horses, pigs and sheep

Marc Moran

February 01, 2023

230,000 cats are hit by cars every year, or 630 every day

Feline hit-and-runs would be a thing of the past if a new law were to be introduced, says road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

The new law would require motorists who run over a cat on UK roads to stop, report the incident to the police and seek veterinary assistance.

Currently, under the Road Traffic Act (1988), drivers are required to report collisions involving animals such as dogs, horses, pigs and sheep. But cats aren’t protected by the same regulations, and collisions don’t need to be reported.

IAM RoadSmart supports parity of treatment for cats, ensuring they are also recognized by law.

IAM RoadSmart’s appeal comes after MPs also voiced support for the appeal during a Petitions Committee debate on January 9, which was triggered after an e-petition garnered 102,436 signatures .

During the debate, Transport Minister Richard Holden acknowledged the “sorrow caused by the loss of pets”.

The charity Cats Protection estimates that there are 11 million owned cats in the UK, with just over one in four households (26%) owning a cat.

But tragically, a 2022 UK Parliament motion learned that around 230,000 cats are hit by cars every year, an average of 630 a day. The research, led by insurers PetPlan, also claimed that kittens are most at risk, with half of all cats hit by vehicles being between seven months and two years old.

IAM RoadSmart supports the proposed rule changes as they could help keep all road users, and cats, safe on UK roads.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Drivers are required by law to stop and report incidents where they have hit a dog. We have seen cars drive slowly and with extreme caution, or come to a halt, when a dog has escaped onto the road. However, the same level of care is rarely seen when a cat runs out – perhaps because the driver knows that legally they don’t have to stop.

“But if a law requiring drivers to stop if they hit a cat were to be introduced, we believe it could increase driver vigilance and accountability overall, which means the benefits of the legislation will extend well beyond the protection of cats.”

Mandy Hobbis, co-founder of Cats Matter, the cat road accident group, added: “Updating this law is simply about minimizing suffering and saving the lives of cats. Luckily, many drivers are already doing the right thing and stopping their vehicle to deal with a cat they’ve run over, regardless of the law. However, there are also drivers who unfortunately need to be threatened with punishment for acting under such circumstances.

“It just can’t be fair that drivers can hit a cat and legally leave it alone, scared, or worse, left to die. Like dogs, cats are beloved members of the family for millions of homes across the country, so we see no reason why the sad cases of the nation’s beloved cats being run over on the road shouldn’t be treated in the same way.

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