Animal collisions are expected to spike as winter sets in with drivers reminded to be extra vigilant especially at dawn and dusk when nocturnal animals are more active. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

For the fourth year running, Canberra roads remain the most dangerous hotspot for animal collisions and motorists are reminded to be vigilant as the likelihood of collisions is about to increase.

According to the latest data from insurer AAMI, animal collisions are once again expected to spike as winter sets in, with a 15% jump between May and August.

This high-risk time follows a horror bushfire season which has taken an enormous toll on animal life and habitats, with fears an increase in animal collisions will further impact vulnerable wildlife.

Kristie Newton from WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service), said the bushfires have wiped out an estimated one billion native animals, “and the devastating loss of so much bushland has left many displaced and vulnerable”.

“As we head into winter, we may see increased activity, particularly from nocturnal wildlife as they cross roads in search of food and water, which we saw after the drought, increasing the likelihood of them being hit.”

Analysis of more than 21,000 AAMI animal collision claims between 1 February 2019 and 31 January 2020 revealed Canberra as the country’s most dangerous hotspot. This refers to postcodes 2601 and 2600 which encompass areas including the City, Acton, Barton, Harman and Yarralumla.

Locally, the top five animal collision hotspots in the ACT are listed as Canberra, Kambah, Belconnen, Hume and Symonston.

Meanwhile, NSW has been ranked the worst state for animal collisions – almost one-third of animal-related accidents across the country took place on NSW roads – followed closely by Victoria.

AAMI’s data found motorists are most likely to experience a major collision with a kangaroo (84%), wallaby (5%), wombat (2%), deer (2%) or bird (1%). The worst day of the week for animal crashes is Friday, followed by the weekend.

The ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate website [https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/plants-and-animals/urban-wildlife/kangaroos/kangaroos_and_vehicles] has some helpful information for motorists about kangaroos and vehicles, including a list of hot spots for collisions, and what to do if you have been in an accident involving wildlife.

AAMI has also provided these tips for sharing the roads with animals:

  • If you notice roadkill, slow down and pay extra attention. It’s an indicator of wildlife in the area.
  • If you spot a kangaroo crossing the road, it’s a sign that more kangaroos will be following as they move in groups.
  • If you see an animal on the road, slow down and brake, but avoid swerving so as not to endanger yourself and other drivers on the road. It’s far less dangerous to keep driving and damage your car than swerve to avoid the animal and collide with another vehicle or tree.
  • If you’re involved in an animal collision, stop to check its welfare, but only if it is safe to do so. If the animal is alive and injured, call WIRES or your local wildlife rescue service.
  • If it’s a dead kangaroo, check if it is a female and if there’s a joey(s) in her pouch or around her. Pouches/flaps of wombats and echidnas should also be checked as well as the surrounding area, as young echidnas are often dislodged during a vehicle collision.
  • Drive slowly and be extra vigilant when driving at dawn or dusk, as this is when animals are most active.
  • Use your peripheral vision and be aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling through forest or grassland areas where animals are not clearly visible.

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