According to AXA’s claims figures, car drivers are especially likely to collide with a wild animal in the cantons of Jura, Graubünden, and Fribourg. Throughout Switzerland, the amount paid out in claims is estimated to be more than CHF 50 million. If you hit a wild animal, you must report this to the police immediately; otherwise you risk being prosecuted for animal cruelty.
Thousands of wild animals die on the roads every year. More than 3,000 wildlife vehicle collisions are reported every year just to AXA, Switzerland’s largest motor vehicle insurer. The resulting volume of claims has increased slightly in recent years and now stands at more than CHF 11 million a year, with the nationwide total likely to be over CHF 50 million. This increase is probably due to a small rise in the number of claims over the past few years and the fact that the cost of spare parts is steadily going up.
AXA’s claims statistics show that the likelihood of colliding with an animal differs from region to region in Switzerland. Car drivers should be particularly careful in Jura, Graubünden, and Fribourg, where the risk is up to eight times higher than in other cantons.
Animal damage frequency (in per mille)
Wildlife vehicle collisions can essentially happen at any time of day and in any season. “However, drivers should be especially careful in October, November, and December because, as the days get shorter, wild animals are more likely to be out and about at the same time as car drivers. It’s also dark when most people are driving in the morning and evening, so drivers often don’t see animals on the road until it’s too late,” says Thomas Eichholzer, Accident Researcher at AXA. Drivers should therefore adjust their speed and be ready to brake at any time in the morning or evening – particularly in wooded areas and where there are warning signs, he advises.
«When the days become shorter, it is more likely that wild animals will be out and about at the same time as car drivers.»
Even at a moderate speed, colliding with an animal can create a considerable impact. Most people are not seriously injured whenever there is a collision between a car and a wild animal, but according to the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), 93 people were injured in accidents involving animals in 2018 compared with 78 in 2017. One person actually died in 2018.
If a wild animal suddenly jumps in front of your car, applying the full brakes is preferable to taking any evasive action. If there is a collision however, you are legally obliged to notify the police immediately. The police will then deploy a gamekeeper, hunter or other specialists to look for the animal and if necessary, release it from its suffering.
«Anyone who doesn’t report an accident to the police immediately or only does so at the insurance company’s request is liable to be prosecuted for animal cruelty”, says AXA-ARAG’s legal expert Cyril Senn. This is because legal practice has intensified in the last few years: people used to be fined simply for wrongful conduct if they delayed reporting an accident, but today they can be prosecuted for reckless or even deliberate animal cruelty. “If an accident involving an animal isn’t reported to the police immediately, the animal may have to suffer from its injuries for hours. That would be a breach of the Animal Welfare Act, potentially resulting in prosecution for animal cruelty and a criminal record. Not reporting or any delay in reporting a wildlife vehicle collision is therefore not a trivial offense”, says legal expert Cyril Senn.