Urbanites rattled by Cattle Grids

  • A third of Brits who live in urban areas have taken alternative routes to avoid cattle grids, adding an average of 4.1miles to their journey, with 33 per cent of urbanites completely unaware of the purpose of cattle grids
  • 21 per cent of younger drivers believe cattle grids have caused damage to their cars, despite just nine per cent of local Council’s recording accidents involving them
  • Local Authorities seem reluctant to install new cattle grids with only nine per cent of Councils doing so since 2020


New research¹ from Direct Line Motor Insurance reveals that almost a third (30 per cent) of those living in urban areas have taken alternative routes to avoid cattle grids as opposed to 4 per cent of rural dwellers, with over a quarter (27 per cent) believing that they are hazardous to drivers.

Cattle grids are a set of bars placed over a hole in the road that allow vehicles to cross but not animals. They are predominantly used in rural areas and have been described by the National Farmers Union as “substantial bits of kit” ² although you may also find them in urban areas where there are large parks such as Richmond or Bushey in London. Despite the obvious requirement for them, a third (33 per cent) of urbanites are unaware of their purpose and that cattle grids regularly help to stop animals wandering out onto main roads. The average urban driver also adds 4.1miles to their journey as a result of re-routing to avoid cattle grids.

The research also unearths a generational divide in understanding the basics of how to drive in rural areas, with a third (34 per cent) of 18–34-year-olds admitting to taking alternative routes to avoid cattle grids, compared to only two per cent of over 55s. The average 18–34-year-old driver added 3.9 miles to their journey as a result of re-routing to avoid cattle grids.

Some of this avoidance amongst younger and urban based drivers appears to come from a confusion about best driving practices when approaching and driving over a cattle grid, with 24 per cent of 18–34-year-olds saying they maintain usual speed or speed up when approaching cattle grids. The UK’s Standards for Highways states, “it is necessary for vehicles to cross cattle grids at relatively low speeds” and that road users should “slow down safely prior to reaching them {cattle grids}”3.

Confusion about how to approach cattle grids can also cause damage to cars with 21 per cent of 18–34-year-olds who have driven over cattle grids saying that they damaged their car as a result, compared to one per cent of those aged over 55. Of those 18-34 year old drivers who damaged their car on cattle grids, 55 per cent said they claimed on their car insurance for the damage. 

Additional analysis of Council data ⁴, covering nearly 1,800 cattle grids across the UK, showed that just nine per cent of Local Authorities had installed new cattle grids since the beginning of 2020.  Dumfries & Galloway Council was the most frequent installer with 12 new cattle grids installed since the turn of the decade. This comes despite the UK farm animal population growing by 14% in the last decade⁵.  

Top Five Local Authorities by Number of Cattle Grids versus Number of Complaints Involving Cattle Grids

Local Authority

Number of Cattle Grids on Roads Maintained by the Council

Number of Complaints Involving Cattle Grids (January 2020 to September 2023

Shetland Islands Council



Devon County Council



Dumfries & Galloway Council



Argyll & Bute Council



Conwy County Borough Council



Source: Freedom of Information Request from Direct Line Motor Insurance, data correct as of September 2023

Analysis of available Local Authority data appears to contradict the scepticism with which cattle grids are held in some quarters, with only nine per cent of local Council’s recording accidents with cattle grids involving humans in the past four years. 

Yet despite these low figures 40 per cent of Councils have recorded complaints about cattle grids from drivers. Devon County Council and Caerphilly County Borough Council both recorded the most with 69 complaints each since the beginning of 2020.

Lorraine Price, Head of Motor Insurance at Direct Line, commented: “For many living in rural areas cattle grids are a road well-trodden, yet there appears to be a cohort of younger and urban drivers who find them confusing, actively avoid them and damaging their vehicles on them. For these drivers some simple advice such as safely slowing down when you approach a cattle grid, being aware of the increased likelihood of seeing animals in the surrounding area and being conscious not to play loud music that may disturb them are all good tips”.




Notes to Editors

(1)     Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted between 12th and 15th December 2023

(2)     Quotations taken from: CD 377 - Requirements for road restraint systems (standardsforhighways.co.uk)

(3)     Quotation taken from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3938591.stm

(4)     FOI request issued to local councils across the UK in October 2023. A total of 45 councils provided usable data.

(5)     Stat taken from: https://www.smf.co.uk/publications/fair-or-fowl-uk-animal-welfare/#:~:text=The%20farm%20animal%20population%20grew,farmed%20animals%20in%20the%20UK.


For further information please contact:

Alice Osborn

PR Manager

[email protected]


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