New figures show the small central Victorian town of Heathcote is the worst in the nation when it comes to drivers hitting animals with their vehicles.
Insurer AAMI has released their data on animal collisions for 2022, revealing the worst spots in each state and territory for crashes involving wild creatures.
The analysis of more than 17,000 animal collision claims made nationally, and a survey of more than 1000 people, also show 61 per cent of drivers admit they would dangerously swerve to avoid animals on the road.
Road accidents involving wildlife can be costly, with the average cost of an insurance claim between $5500 and $6400, while last year, the damage to the vehicle in 14 per cent of animal accidents was so severe the car was written off.
The most common animals that Aussie drivers collide with are kangaroos and wallabies, wombats, dogs, deer and cows.
Fourteen per cent of respondents also admit they wouldn’t know what to do in an animal collision, and may even freeze up behind the wheel.
Thirty per cent of the crashes also occurred during winter; a timely reminder to keep an eye out, especially when driving in the country.
AAMI’s head of motor claims Kahl Dwight said 26 per cent of animal collisions happened between 4.30pm and 8.30pm, so motorists need to take extra care when it’s dusk.
“Visibility also becomes poorer which makes it harder to see wildlife and reduces the time a driver has to react, increasing the risk of a collision,” he said.
“We encourage drivers to always expect the unexpected and know ahead of time what they should do — which is slow down and brake but avoid swerving so as not to endanger yourself and other drivers.
“It’s far less dangerous to keep driving and damage your car than swerve to avoid it and collide with another vehicle or tree.”
Kristie Newton from the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) said koalas are particularly at risk when it comes to vehicular collisions because of their dwindling numbers.
“A colony known as the Campbelltown koalas are the only growing population in NSW, however in recent years the recorded number of koalas hit and killed by motorists has doubled, with road accidents now the leading cause of koala deaths in the region.
“If you have hit an animal while driving, 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.”
Here’s the breakdown of each state’s top five worst animal collision areas:
VICTORIA: Heathcote, Wallan, Gisborne, Halls Gap, Woodend
NSW: Dubbo, Goulburn, Sutton, Cooma, Bungendore
QUEENSLAND: St George, Townsville, Roma, Warwick, Mareeba
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Baldivis, Nannup, Jurien Bay, Bullsbrook, Kalbarri
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Port Augusta, Mount Gambier, Hawker, Morgan, Orroroo
TASMANIA: Kingston, Launceston, Cambridge, Huonville, Latrobe
ACT: Canberra, Kambah, Hume, Weston, Symonston
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Katherine, Adelaide River, Humpty Doo, Mataranka, Batchelor