Loose Livestock Risks Lives Of Drivers; Negligence Hard To Prove, OHP Says

Thursday, November 7th 2013, 5:17 pm
By: Craig Day

A driver is recovering from minor injuries after hitting a horse early Wednesday morning.

Osage SkyNews 6 was above the area where it happened, which is a very busy section of U.S. Highway 75 north of Oklahoma 20.

State troopers say, thankfully, the driver's injuries weren't severe.

11/6/2013 Related Story: OHP: SUV Hits, Kills Horse On Highway 75 In Washington County

Jacqueline James knows how scary that would be. Two years ago, at the same spot, she hit two horses in the same spot.

"Finally getting to the point where, [I think] it can't happen again, and then it happened again," she said. "I hit the front legs of one and the back legs of the other. One of them came into my windshield and the other flipped over the top, over the side."

The collision totaled her car and left James shaken, but not seriously hurt.

"That is just a miracle," James said.

Oklahoma is not considered an open-range state, which basically means all domestic animals have to be fenced in. The problem is, a fence isn't always a guarantee they won't get loose.

A wreck involving livestock is a hard legal case to pursue.

Oklahoma law says a person who hits an animal must prove the owner either intentionally let the animal escape or their negligence allowed it to get out.

James wants to see statutes strengthened, perhaps requiring more stringent guidelines for fencing on land adjacent to busy highways.

"Having a different kind of gate, having a stronger fence, keeping them in a fence in the pasture a little further back," James said.

At the very least, she encourages livestock owners to do frequent fence checks and drivers to always report roaming animals.

"I didn't think I was going to make it once I could see a horse right in my face," James said.

In the most recent collision, OHP says no citation was issued to the horse owner because negligence is difficult to prove.

There would need to be grossly inadequate fencing or a consistent record of multiple reports of animals being out.