Road accidents and animals

What a relief it was to read some good news. Grim news seems to predominate from any source. SUR in English reported recently: "Road deaths on the Costa are the lowest since records began." Stiffer penalties, better awareness and improved technology are credited. Whatever the reason, it happened so let us keep it that way. It depends on us, the motorists.

Leaving the house on the El Chorro to Abdalajís road I spotted within a minute a sad scene. A young black and white cat lay dead on the roadside, obviously the result of a passing vehicle. It started me wondering how many accidents involve animals and the Ministry of the Interior had the answer even if the figures are from 2011.

Figures cover wild boar, deer, horses and dogs. The presence of animals on the road caused 1,700 accidents, causing 650 human casualties, 10 people killed and 84 seriously injured.

The figures for Andalucía alone are worthy of close scrutiny: 903 dogs, 101 horses, 100 wild boar.

As motorists we cannot control wild animals wandering on the road but we can control our speed and awareness when driving through the countryside. Wild animals are easily startled and their instinct is to run, not always away from the noise.

Horses should only be ridden on the road by very experienced riders. Motorists should give the horse plenty of clearance and keep speed down. It is important to wear a hard hat. A friend of mine had a daughter who was a competent rider but used to sometimes remove her helmet. On one occasion she was hatless and crossed a secondary road when a lorry backfired. The horse reared. Angela fell on the hard surface, fractured her skull and died, aged 13, days later.

Dogs should never be allowed on a road without a responsible adult owner and it is an extremely important to have your garden or yard securely fenced. If you have a gate make sure it has a self closing device.

It requires ALL of us to play a part in keeping road deaths down permanently. When I was nineteen a dog ran from a ditch into my father's car which I was driving and was killed instantly. It had a huge impact on me. I can even remember the date: 25 April. I hope it does not happen to you. Bear in mind that if your dog causes injury to property, including vehicle, or persons, you are legally responsible.