There has been much discussion about avoiding kangaroos and other wildlife when driving. Hitting a kangaroo is a distressing experience for drivers.
According to the RACV, kangaroos account for the highest wildlife collisions in Victoria. The Bendigo, Castlemaine and Heathcote region is called the kangaroo collision capital of Victoria.
Avoiding Kangaroos And Other Wildlife
Kangaroos and other native wildlife can be struck by vehicles at any time of the day and night. Due to their large size, kangaroos cause most of the damage to vehicles and potentially, its occupants.
While the focus is on avoiding kangaroos, collisions with other native wildlife is also a concern for drivers. Most collisions happen at night, with wallabies, wombats and possums also being hit. Wombat collisions are most common after dusk usually in spring and autumn.
Avoiding kangaroos and wallabies requires an awareness of their appearance, size and most of all, their behaviour. Kangaroos are usually grey in colour, are larger and move in groups (mobs), while Wallabies are dark brown to black, are smaller and solitary. In the blinding glare of headlights, both species are unpredictable in which way they will move.
Avoiding Kangaroos: Understanding Their Behaviour
Avoiding kangaroos is not well understood by the general public. It involves understanding their movement patterns and behaviour near roads. It's mostly about timing - time of day and time of year are both critical in understanding how to avoid kangaroos.
Dawn and dusk throughout the year is their main activity period. However, kangaroos are usually active at night, with increases in their movement patterns during spring and autumn.
Avoiding Kangaroos: Awareness and Driving Habits
Avoiding kangaroos also depends on improving your awareness and changing your driving habits. Wildlife collisions appear to be common events, but in reality they are are usually random and limited to certain periods. There are ways to minimize your chances of hitting wildlife and damaging your car or its occupants. Consider the following points:
Slow down - evidence shows that you have more time to react when you slow down. When you reduce your speed in kangaroo active areas you will avoid the distress of hitting a kangaroo at fast speeds.
Be mindful of road signs that advise motorists of the potential for kangaroos in the area. Also, if you notice dead kangaroos on the roadside, slow down as it is a sure sign of kangaroo activity in the area.
Be more alert on road crests and bends, and on roads with shrubs or bush on the side, as these can obscure kangaroos.
If your car is equipped with cruise control, consider setting your speed at 80km per hour and resting your foot above the brake pedal in readiness to brake. Focus on the road ahead and scan for kangaroos emerging from the roadside vegetation. Other drivers may be impatient and will attempt to overtake your vehicle. Allow other drivers to overtake you safely by slowing down and being patient. You will soon be out of the kangaroo active area.
If needed, brake heavily in a straight line - never steer or swerve to one side.
When a kangaroo appears from the the roadside vegetation, it is possible that a second or third kangaroo will also appear, as they move in mobs from one location to another. Keep an eye out for the second or third kangaroo. Wallabies are stouter and smaller and will always be solitary, not moving in mobs.
Consider installing a bullbar if travelling regularly on country roads, especially at night if you are concerned about damage to your vehicle.
Don’t bother with electronic devices claimed to deter kangaroos - there is no clear evidence that they work (a three-year study published by Melbourne University in 2001 found the Shu Roo neither altered the behaviour of kangaroos within hearing range nor made any difference to the number of kangaroos hit by test vehicles driven in four states.)
Avoiding Kangaroos: Awareness Of Activity Periods
Avoiding kangaroos involves awareness of your locality, the time of day and season, not driving at dawn, dusk and night, and slowing down when driving in kangaroo active areas.
Kangaroos show little road sense. At night kangaroos will appear to make random directional changes because all they can see is a blinding light. It is a matter of being aware of kangaroo movements and taking note of warning signs indicating kangaroo activity and slowing down.
If you can’t avoid driving at night then slowing down is your best bet. At 80 or 90km/h you have a better chance of avoiding collision than at 100km/h or higher. You will have more chance of seeing a kangaroo sooner and be able to react safely.
If a kangaroo jumps out or is on the road it is best to reduce speed by braking heavily in a straight line. It is safer to hit a kangaroo than hit a tree resulting in serious damage to your car and serious injury or death to yourself and/or passengers.
Avoiding kangaroos means you increase your chances of staying safe and avoiding damage to your vehicle. If you hit a kangaroo or other wildlife please contact us and we will help.