PORTLAND and Halls Gap are among the top five places in Victoria where drivers are likely to collide with an animal.
According to figures released by RACV Insurance, Heathcote and Bendigo are the top areas for animal-related insurance claims made by drivers during 2010 and 2011, with Halls Gap and Portland ranked equal third with 28 claims each.
These results are part of more than 10,300 claims made for animal-related accidents over the past three years, prompting RACV Insurance general manager Paul Northey to call for drivers to be careful.
“From the start of April through to the end of winter, commuters are more often on the roads at dawn or dusk, when animals are more active and venturing out in search of food and water,” Mr Northey said. The most common animal hit in accidents is the kangaroo which made up 67 per cent of all claims involving collisions with animals.
Mr Northey said the repair cost for incidents involving kangaroos over the past three years was close to $7 million, with an average cost of around $3230 per claim.
“Crashing into a medium to large sized kangaroo not only causes serious vehicle damage, it can also injure the vehicle driver and passengers,” Mr Northey said.
After kangaroos, the most common animals involved in vehicular accidents were dogs, wombats, cats and cattle.
Mr Northey said drivers in rural areas needed to be mindful of animals, but the increasing urban sprawl was also making such accidents more prevalent in built-up areas.
“Animal-related incidents don’t just occur in the country,” he said.
“In urban areas, domestic animals like dogs and cats can be involved in motor vehicle accidents, so care still needs to be taken. To help prevent animal-related incidents, be careful when driving on both urban and rural roads because animals can be unpredictable, especially when dazzled by headlights.
“Motorists should be constantly aware that animals may unexpectedly run onto the road.
“The risk can be significantly reduced by driving within the speed limit and at a speed appropriate to the prevailing conditions, especially when visibility is lower.”