WITH more than 10'000 traffic accidents every year in Spain involving animals, the country's RACC Automobile Club announced findings yesterday of a study it had undertaken with one of its counterparts in Germany - ADAC - which analyses the dangers for vehicle occupants in the case of just such a collision.

Deeply concerned by the National Traffic department's most recent statistics registering 954 injured and 23 dead on Spanish roads over the period of a year as a result of collisions involving animals, RACC advised that the majority of such accidents where cars meet animals roaming freely happen in the early hours of the day and late in the evening. The monitoring of danger levels according to species showed that dogs caused 40 percent of road deaths, wild boar 30 percent and horses more than 20 percent. The Club claimed that many collisions could be avoided by drivers paying attention to road signs indicating the presence of animals. The two kinds consist firstly of a red triangle encompassing a drawing of a deer indicating the presence of wild animals likely to be in the area, and a second with a red triangle enclosing a picture of a cow relating to the proximity of domestic creatures. Being alert at the wheel and prepared to brake under emergency conditions should be part of this awareness.

Animals roaming free begin to wander between 8pm and 7am when 75 percent of accidents between vehicles and wildlife takes place. If one beast has just crossed the road, it is likely that others will follow. The driver should therefore be particularly attentive on such occasions.

Accidents are often triggered by an inappropriate response from the person behind the wheel when an animal is encountered on the road. If knee-jerk responses are taken, not only does it endanger the people in the immediate vehicle, but also other drivers. The RACC says that only if a vehicle is in possession of an Electronic Stabiliser Control is it wise to try and avoid the animal.

If a collision with an animal is imminent, it's important to brake hard and grip the steering wheel firmly in order not to career off the roadway. In the event of collision, park the car, set up the obligatory metal triangles in front of and behind the vehicle and put on reflector jackets. Call 112 Emergency services indicating your location and the nature of the accident. Don't attempt to retrieve the body of the animal from the roadway as this may incur further danger.

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