A new draft road traffic law is currently ready for debate in Congress and it turns an existing law on its head.
Currently, a driver is only considered responsible for an accident involving game if they have violated driving regulations. If the incident was a result of a hunting expedition that pushed the animals onto the road, or poor fencing maintenance, the blame fell on the owner of the grounds. The proprietor of the public road could also be held accountable if the accident occurred because of poor road conditions or a lack of proper signalling.
The new bill states that in any accident in which a driver hits a game animal, ‘the driver of the vehicle will be responsible for any damage to people or goods’. This, however, does not extend to paying for the dead animals.
There is an exception in cases where the collision occurs as ‘a direct consequence of a collective hunt of large game (anything larger than a fox)’. This applies as long as the accident happens at the time of the hunt or in the following 24 hours.
If the hunters were out shooting rabbit or partridge, for example, the driver will now be to blame. Public authorities can still be held accountable if they have failed to repair damaged fences or did not put up signs, but road conditions become totally irrelevant under the new law.
So, if someone says they are hunting boar, fires a shot which sends a wild boar running onto a road and it causes an accident, fatal or not, the driver is not responsible.
If, however, someone says they are hunting rabbits, fires a shot which sends a wild boar running onto a road and it causes an accident, fatal or not, the driver is held responsible, despite the fact he could be obeying the prevailing road traffic regulations.
As a consequence, the driver will not be covered by civil responsibility insurance, since they are considered guilty and will also not be covered by the game preserve’s insurance or by the government as it is likely to be practically impossible to assign blame to them.
Should the victim suffer serious injuries, or even death, relatives would have no right to any kind of compensation.
The new law has many advantages for the owners of game preserves since they will be able to get away with using fewer safety measures to prevent animals from crossing the road, and their civil liability insurance will be much cheaper. And the road owner will also generally get away scot free.
There are, of course, well in excess of 25,000 private game reserves and a very powerful and influential ‘hunt lobby’, perhaps akin to the gun lobby in the USA.
Seems to make about as much sense as a chocolate fireguard.