Animals linked to road casualties
A new traffic sign that warns motorists there might be small mammals nearby has been launched to make the roads safer and protect wildlife, the Department for Transport said. There are statistics to explain why. From 2005 to 2017, 100 people were killed and 14,173 were injured via incidents that involved animals.
Animals of various types inevitably suffered too. Consider hedgehogs. Since the turn of the millennium, the population has halved in rural areas. Collisions with vehicles likely contributed.
Small mammal sign appearance
The new small mammal sign is triangular and has a thick, red border. Its background is white. Within the centre of the sign is the black silhouette of a hedgehog. However, the sign is not specific to hedgehogs. It confirms there might be any of several small mammals on the road including badgers, squirrels, and otters.
The small mammal sign complements other such warnings. There is a sign for even smaller creatures such as migratory toads, for example. At the other end of the scale, another sign warns motorists there might be big animals on the road such as livestock.
Comment from experts
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘We have some of the safest roads in the world but are always looking at how to make them safer. Motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are, particularly at risk. This new small mammal warning sign should help reduce the number of people killed and hurt – as well as help our precious small wild mammal population flourish’, he concluded.
Tony Campbell, Chief Executive of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), also praised the sign. He said: ‘2 wheelers provide a great solution to road congestion, but like all road users riders must be aware of those around them. The MCIA is pleased to welcome the sign. It will help everyone – including those on 2 wheels or 4 legs – complete their journeys more safely.’
Dangers of small mammals
Small mammals cause various issues for drivers. Their size and colouring can make them difficult to see in low light, for instance. Furthermore, they emerge from hedgerows at speed and close to traffic. There is then very little space or time to react.
The Department for Transport now plans to establish the best locations for its new sign. It is looking for hotspots where there is a good number of small mammals. There must also have been a reasonable number of collisions. Local Authorities and animal welfare groups have been asked to provide the required information.