Australia is home to so many native animals, from sleepy koalas to boisterous kangaroos. We share this country with them, which means we need to look out for them in shared spaces. Sadly, native animals and cars sometimes collide on the roads. This can be particularly true in less built-up areas where there’s more bushland around. So, it’s a good idea to research how to avoid animal collisions while travelling. Today, we cover a few tips for driving safely around Australian wildlife.
One element of driving safely around Australian wildlife is having an idea of when animals are at their most active. For many, this is during their breeding season. Knowing when Australian wildlife breeding seasons are can help you know when to keep a particular eye out for travelling animals. For kangaroos, this tends to be in the spring and summer months. If you want to be extra cautious, limit the amount you drive through bushland during these periods.
Another time when wildlife tends to be more active is at the beginning and end of the day. Travelling outside of these times may mean you spot fewer animals, but it will also likely mean a lower chance of animals walking across your path. The darkness can also make it more difficult to spot any animals that do end up on the road ahead.
In Australia, certain areas are more likely than others to have wild animals like kangaroos and koalas. Built-up, urban areas (particularly those of major cities) are unlikely to have many marsupials about, though you may see some in the surrounding outer suburbs. Conversely, rural areas and those with plenty of eucalyptus trees and grassland may be home to many native animals. Those looking to avoid wildlife collisions should try to stay aware of where animals are likely to be when exploring our beautiful country.
Keeping alert when on the road is vital, not just for avoiding potential accidents with other cars, but also for our animal friends. While driving, scan the side of the road ahead to see if any animals are approaching the road. Staying alert means you know of what the other cars around you are doing, and have plenty of time to move into another lane or safely stop and allow the animal to cross.
Speeding can lead to accidents. In fact, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) has identified it as one of The Fatal Five. The Fatal Five are the five major causes of road accidents in Australia. Speeding can also make it difficult to stop in time when you need to brake unexpectedly (such as seeing an animal crossing the road up ahead).
Other elements that can lead to accidents and collisions are lethargy and fatigue. Fatigue is another one of The Fatal Five. According to the NRSPP, a quarter of fatal accidents involve fatigue. It’s vital not to drive when you’re tired. Driving when tired can mean your reaction times are slower, which is bad news for any animals that might cross your path with little warning.
Strong lights can let animals know you’re coming from a long way away. When driving on quiet country roads consider using your high beams. This also allows you to have a longer line of sight and gives animals more time to get out of the way. Your horn can be used to warn animals on the road ahead of your approach. Before heading out on a long or remote drive, check your lights and horn to make sure everything is in good working order.
These signs have been placed alongside roads across the country to warn motorists about wildlife in the area. They might be digital signs that warn of koalas being about, or a simple yellow diamond sign to convey that kangaroos are often seen around that stretch of road. To help prevent wildlife collisions, keep an eye out for these signs and specifically scan for the animals on the sign when you do.
If you hit a native animal while driving, pull over and call 1300 ANIMAL or directly contact a wildlife group close to the scene of the accident, you can find a list of organisations in our Help Desk here. You may be asked for a location, so have this ready. You should also check your car to ensure no major damage has occurred before commencing driving.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about driving safely around Australian wildlife. Want to know a few more general tips about driving on Australian roads? Check out our article on Driving in Australia 101: How to Drive in Australia for some handy information.