Taxi drivers are among the many motorists to have close scrapes with wildlife on our roads.
Whether it is a deer bounding across a motorway or a badger trying to cross an A-road, drivers can be faced with a variety of four-legged or winged hazards and have only a split-second to act.
Incidents can lead to drivers crashing after swerving to avoid a bird or animal, or suffer severe damage to their vehicles if they hit anything, especially larger mammals such as deer. While the damage will usually be covered by the driver’s taxi insurance, it is still a shock to collide with an animal or bird, especially at high speed.
The most common animals killed on UK roads are hedgehogs, pheasants and badgers, while the tawny owl, kestrel and barn owl are the most likely birds of prey to be killed by vehicles. It is thought that pigeons are more used to human interaction and usually fare better, especially on country roads.
In the event that you are involved in a collision with an animal, the Highway Code says drivers must report hitting horses, cattle, donkeys, mules, sheep, pigs, goats and dogs.
Although it is not a requirement, it would be cruel if a driver struck a cat, rabbit, or other animal likely to be a pet and did not stop and at least try to find the owner.
While pigeons and other birds are not mentioned in UK legislation, there are very strict laws in Japan, especially when it comes to certain species.
The Law for Protection of Birds and Wild Animals prohibits individuals from exterminating pigeons. The law regulates the protection and keeping of wild mammals and birds, as well as the protection of the environment, population control, and systems related to hunting. It prohibits people who do not have a permit from killing or injuring birds and animals.
This applies to pigeons, which are classed as wild birds. Residents cannot exterminate them and injuring pigeons is also prohibited. Even the act of chasing them away can result in penalties. Residents must consult with the city office to get permission to exterminate, depending on the situation.
This is what led to the arrest of a Tokyo taxi driver who is accused of deliberately driving his cab into a flock of pigeons.
The Guardian was one of several newspapers to report the arrest of Atsushi Ozawa on suspicion of deliberately driving into a flock of the birds, killing one of them, in Tokyo in December.
A Tokyo police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that Ozawa, 50, “used his car to kill a common pigeon, which is not a game animal”, and was arrested on December 3 for violating wildlife protection laws.
While some thought it might have been an accident or misunderstanding, Ozawa reportedly told local media he had driven into the birds because “Roads are for people. It’s up to the pigeons to avoid cars”.
The Guardian says Japanese media reports that the taxi driver “allegedly sped off from traffic lights after they had turned green and ploughed into the birds at a speed of 60km/h (37mph)”.
Because of his job as a professional driver, police described his actions as “highly malicious” – a consideration that prompted them to proceed with the unusual arrest, the Fuji TV network reported.
Have you been involved in a collision with an animal or bird?
Information correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.