Going on a road trip is one of the best ways to see wildlife in their natural habitat and it can be very rewarding, it can also be very dangerous if you encounter an animal standing in the middle of the road. Statistics from 2018 showed there were 190 fatalities caused by motor vehicles colliding with animals in the United States alone. Here are some tips on how to stay safe whilst making the most of your animal viewing experience.
SLOW DOWN – The most obvious and important way to avoid collision is to follow the road speed limits and slow down. Known wildlife hotspots will have signs warning motorists of the danger. Chances are these hotspots will also provide the best opportunity to see wildlife.
STAY ALERT- Long road trips can be exhausting. Focussing on what’s in front and around you can be a challenge at the best of times, add in a long day of driving and animals that don’t know the road rules and you have a recipe for disaster. Try and take as many breaks as possible and swap over drivers every two hours. Recruit the help of your passengers to keep an eye out for wildlife, both off and on the road and never drive when you are tired.
DON’T TAILGATE – Swerving or slamming on the breaks to avoid hitting wildlife can more often than not make the situation worse for you and other cars around you. Try and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Remember its almost certainly better to collide with a kangaroo or a deer than a tree or oncoming traffic – of course driving safely will mean you hit none of these.
PICK YOUR TIMES – Driving at dusk and dawn is the best time to see animals as they will be out and about. Be extra alert when driving at these times of the day.
ALWAYS GIVE ANIMALS SPACE – Lager animals will have no hesitation to ram your vehicle if they feel trapped or in danger. Always allow plenty of room between your car and a wild animal, even a small deer or wallaby can do significant damage to a car if they perceive it to be blocking their escape path. Larger animals can totally destroy a car if given the chance.
STAY IN YOUR CAR – If you come across a large wild animal it is always best to stay in your car and let it pass. Animals can be very unpredictable, especially if it is hurt, scared or has babies. The larger the animal the more this is advised.
FOLLOW THE CROWDS – Driving known wildlife hot spots like national or state parks is a real treat for wildlife enthusiasts. Unfortunately these places can also be people magnets. Seeing traffic jams ahead or lots of cars parked on the side of the road is sure sign that wildlife are close by.
CHECK IN THE POUCH – If you are unlucky enough to hit a Kangaroo, Womnat, Koala or any other marsupial in Australia it’s best to check for a baby in its pouch. Babies will generally survive an accident in their mother’s pouch and it is always advisable to check. If you do find an injured animal or baby please call WIRES in your local area in Australia.