Wildlife on our roads

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Thousands of animals - both native and pastoral - are killed on Australian roads each year. Contact with wildlife on the road is dangerous for the driver, passengers and animals - it can also leave your vehicle in need of repair.

Kangaroos are known to gather on roadsides to feed on vegetation.

Each year, thousands of collisions between animals and motor vehicles occur on Australian roadsi. The majority of the animals hit are kangaroos and wallabies. Native animals aren't the only victims of road accidents; farmyard animals including horses, cattle, sheep and goats can pose serious risks to driversii.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services claim that one in five crashes on rural roads involve an animaliii. Major highways and roads in some areas of rural Australia are unfencedii, increasing the risk of accident when wild and pastoral animals wander across them. Animals can be drawn to the roadside to feed, attracted by the lush vegetation that results from water runoff from the road surfaceii. Of the native animals, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, birds and reptiles are most likely to be hitiv. Scavengers, such as eagles and other birdlife, may feed on the carcasses of wildlife killed on the road, therefore also putting themselves at risk of injury or death from vehiclesii.

Swerving, distraction, collision and sudden braking are common responses to unexpected wildlife on the roadii,iii. The weight of larger animals such as emus, goats, kangaroos, cattle and horses can cause collisions that are fatal to people inside the vehicleii. A high speed collision with an animal may cause the loss of control of your vehicle, major vehicle damage, serious personal injury or even deathii to car passengers and the animal.

There is a higher risk of contact with an animal at dawn and dusk, when visibility on the roads is decreased and when animals tend to be more activeii. Easter, school holidays, long weekends and the beginning and end of daylight saving time see an increased number of animal-related accidents on our roadsiv.

Pay attention to road signs indicating that wildlife may be ahead.

There are steps you can take to help avoid hitting an animal on the road:

What to do if you accidentally hit an animal on the road:

Help prevent injury to yourself and animals, and serious damage to your vehicle, by being aware and considerate of the wildlife that we share our roads with. It's also important to consider car insurance as it can help protect you financially in the event of vehicle damage from a collision between your car and an animal on the road.

i Rowden, P, Steinhardt D, Sheehan M 2008, Road crashes involving animals in Australia, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), viewed 26 August 2013, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/15299/1/15299a.pdf

ii Main Roads Western Australia 2013, Animal Alert!, viewed 26 August 2013, http://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/usingroads/touringwamaps/pages/animalalert.aspx

iii Roads and Maritime Services 2011, Watch out animals about, viewed 26 August 2013, http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/about/news-events/index.html

iv NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) 2011, Watch out for wildlife, viewed 26 August 2013, http://www.wires.org.au/media/media-centre/176-watch-out-for-wildlife.html