Friday 6 January 2023

Petition making it a legal requirement for drivers to stop and report collisions with cats will fail

A petition on the UK government website has 102,436 signatures. It was open for 6 months. Its demand is to "Make it a legal requirement for drivers to stop & report collisions with cats". This is a campaign that has been going on for a long time (since at least 2014). It is a good campaign. Drivers have to stop and report accidents with other animals including horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs, but not cats or wild animals. 
Image: MikeB

Because it reached over 100k signatures it has to be debated in the House of Commons. It will be next week. But it is a waste of time because the government will not enact new legislation to comply with the petition. Their reason?

Here is the Department of Transport response on the petition website:
"The Government has no plans to make it an offence to drive off after hitting a cat. A focus for this Government is to make roads safer for all users, which will in turn reduce the risk to all animals. 

Under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a driver is required to stop and report an accident involving specified animals including horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs, but not cats or wild animals. This requirement arises from their status as working animals rather than as domestic pets. To introduce such a measure within the provision of section 170 would require primary legislation. 

Having a law making it a requirement to report road accidents involving cats would be very difficult to enforce and we have reservations about the difference it would make to the behaviour of drivers, who are aware that they have run over a cat and do not report it. 

Although there is no obligation to report all animal deaths on roads, Rule 286 of The Highway Code advises drivers to report any accident involving an animal to the police, and if possible, they should make enquiries to ascertain the owner of domestic animals and advise them of the situation. 

The Government recognises how distressing it can be for someone to lose a pet, especially without knowing what has happened. We committed in our Manifesto, and reaffirmed in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, to introducing compulsory cat microchipping and plan to introduce the necessary legislation this year. We understand that the vast majority of local authorities now have arrangements in place to scan dead cats and dogs found by them and we will continue working with them and other stakeholders to develop and promote best practice in this area. " - Department for Transport.

That was a massive campaign by some great women to plug a loophole in UK legislation which is unfair on domestic cats. 

The underlying reason why the government won't make new law on this is because they are too busy trying to fix so many profound problems in what many people believe is a broken Britain.

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