You’ve been planning the road trip of a lifetime. Your car is serviced, new tires installed, windscreen is in good shape and it’s time to hit the road!! Little do you know you might be in for a wild ride. Our vast Australian landscape is a travellers playground; but the common danger of escaping the city for long stints of driving is our abundant wildlife that are not up to speed with the road rules.
Collisions with animals account for 5% of all accident types in Australia. Our number one culprit is the kangaroo, accounting for nine out of ten car accidents involving animals. So what can you do to avoid a run in with our furry friends, and what should you do if it happens to you?
How to avoid wildlife collisions
Nominate a ‘spotter’
If you’re travelling with family or friends it’s a good idea to nominate a passenger to keep a lookout for wildlife so you can keep your eyes on the road. Even if you spot emus or kangaroos some distance from the road, it’s a good idea to slow down and maintain a safe distance from any vehicles around you. Our seemingly ‘calm’ Aussie icons are quick, easily spooked and unpredictable.
Avoid Animal Peak Hour
Peak hours on country roads are dusk and dawn. This is when the wildlife are on the move and the times of day the vast majority of animal accidents occur. If you’re driving at night use your high beams as much as possible, and look out for the glow of eyes in their glare. Be aware of any road signs indicating dense wildlife populations and crossings, you should slow down and be hyper vigilant in these areas.
Don’t swerve to miss an animal!
No one wants to be responsible for roadkill; but if you find yourself in an unavoidable predicament hit the brakes smoothly and keep your wheel straight. Swerving to miss an animal can easily send you off the road, or into the path of oncoming traffic – which can have devastating consequences.
What to do if you hit an animal while driving
Stay calm, pull off the road and stop the car
Colliding with anything while driving is quite the shock! Try to remain calm as you put your hazard lights on and pull well off the road to safety and switch off the vehicle. If you’re unable to remove the car from the road, check first that everyone in the car is okay and decide whether or not an ambulance should be called. Where possible, make sure all passengers exit the vehicle and keep well clear of the scene as you call the police and try to warn other traffic of the obstruction ahead.
Assess the condition of the animal
Even though this wasn’t your fault, you have responsibilities towards the animal and making sure the road is clear and safe. Ask a passenger to take a couple of quick photos of the scene for possible insurance purposes as you carefully and quietly approach the animal to assess its condition. You should always carry a blanket or old sheet in your car to protect yourself and injured wildlife in these unpredictable scenarios.
If the animal is deceased and it’s safe to do so, remove it from the road using the blanket and double-check there are no babies in its pouch or nearby. You can then call the area’s local council to arrange the removal of the deceased animal.
If you find the animal is badly injured; but alive, remember your safety is paramount. Even a small wallaby can be aggressive and cause serious injury if they feel threatened. Call the local authorities straight away so they can humanely euthanize the critter, or arrange for the RSPCA or local wildlife carers to take it in for treatment. If it’s a small animal that you can pick up, you can wrap it up and take it to the local wildlife hospital or vet. Be sure to take note of the exact location where you had your wild run in, so the animal can be returned to its habitat.
Assess damage to the vehicle
Once the animal is dealt with and the roadway is clear and safe, you need to check your vehicle very thoroughly. If your car is badly dented or the airbags have deployed, you’ll need to call the police to report the accident and have the vehicle towed and inspected.
If there is minor damage, be sure to take photos and report the accident to police for insurance purposes. Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible. Before you get back behind the wheel, take extra care to ensure there are no leaks or possible damage to your wheels or windscreen. Take it easy as you start to drive, making sure your steering is properly responsive, the brakes are working soundly, and there are no rattles, bumps or strange noises.
Windscreen damaged after hitting an animal?
Windscreen damage is very common in an animal accident. When a vehicle bonnet or door is dented it can compromise the safety and integrity of your windscreen and place you in serious danger. Even very minor chips or cracks on the windscreen can quickly and suddenly worsen beyond repair, resulting in a costly and avoidable replacement.
Call a windscreen repair professional straight away for a thorough inspection and in many cases a quick on-the-spot repair. Depending on your location most windscreen repair companies like us will come to you, and if the damage can be repaired, we’ll have you back on the road safely in no time.
Novus Auto Glass specialise in windscreen repair technology and strive to provide you with the best possible care for your car. Services include windscreen repair and replacement as well as restoration, polishing and windscreen glass cleaning and protection products. Arrange a quote online, or call us to see how we can help you on 13 22 34.