We all notice how many animals seem to get killed on the roads in Spain, but it is not always the fault of the motorist.

According to the Society for the Maintenance of Vertebrates, published in the Tráfico Magazine, more than 30 million vertebrates die in Spain because a car runs over them. The habits of the animals is a great influence in this fact: some of them get scared and stay still when they see a vehicle, some are looking for food (carcasses) on the road’s verges and some simply chase across the path of oncoming vehicles. The path of a scared or injured animal is unpredictable.

Pet animals (dogs, cats, sheep, goats and to a lesser extent, cows), are involved in 64% of the accidents. The remaining 36% are caused by wild animals, especially, wild boar, deer, and foxes. Most of the accidents take place when there is little light, and this number increases at weekends. Part of these road victims are amphibians, especially toads and frogs, especially between March and April. Four million are reptiles, and the snake is the most at risk, especially between June and August. It is estimated that 12 million birds die on our roads every year, above all sparrows, but also there are many birds of prey that hunt on the roadsides.

The General Traffic Regulation states that pet owners are responsible for any damage caused, and the Civil Code reiterates and adds that it is their responsibility even though the animal may have escaped or gone missing. The Penal Code can be put into force in the case of any accident causing injury or death.

The Ministry of Public Works has already taken some measures to prevent this kind of accident, like the deforestation of the roads’ edges to help motorists see the animals, erecting barriers impregnated with a substance to dissuade animals from venturing on the road, and using reflective barriers or cane fences on both sides of the road.

The Platform of Road Security and Biodiversity suggests some measures that could be very effective: compulsory identification of all the animals and sterilization of the non-reproducers, collection of the animals on the road by specialised staff, adaptation of road structures, shelters and medical assistance, and a social recycling of the animals aimed at helping disabled people.

This is a very serious problem, not only for the animals, but also for the drivers, as many accidents are caused by these animals wandering onto busy roads.