Drivers ‘should avoid swerving around animals’

kangaroo cull
Kangaroo numbers increased in suburban areas earlier this year.

A senior Macedon Ranges police officer says motorists should resist the instinct to swerve if they see animals on the road ahead.

Traffic management unit officer-in-charge Geoff Neil said emergency services were often called to crashes, some of them fatal, caused by drivers trying to avoid wildlife.

Sergeant Neil said Gisborne-Bacchus Marsh Road, Romsey Road and Kilmore Road near Riddells Creek were among hot- spots where mobs of kangaroos were often seen feeding.

‘‘One of the obvious responses is to drive a little bit slower,’’ Sergeant Neil said.

‘‘The other one, and it’s the hardest one, is don’t really try to avoid them.

‘‘If they’re sitting in front of you, you are better off going straight ahead.

“People have swerved to miss an animal and they’ve gone off in the trees.’’

Sergeant Neil warned crashes involving wildlife were more frequent in the lead-up to summer.

‘‘One can certainly become upset at the wanton destruction of wildlife, but we can’t throw human life away just through reaction.’’

He said the number of crashes reported to police were just a fraction of those that occurred.

New data reveals that Sunbury (third) and Gisborne (sixth) were among the state’s top 10 postcodes for insurance claims for collisions with animals in 2014.

Data released by RACV shows 41 claims were made in Sunbury, down from 50 the previous year.

A total of 37 claims were made in Gisborne, up from 18 in 2013.

An overwhelming majority of claims involved kangaroos.

Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network figures show volunteers attended to 1292 kangaroos in 2014, many of them having been hit on the roads.

The figure was up from 1064 in 2013.

Spokeswoman Fiona Corke said the network, which is seeking a meeting with ministers, wanted the state government to conduct a Transport Accident Commission- style campaign to encourage people to drive to conditions and avoid hitting animals on country roads.

She said driver education about wildlife was almost non-existent.

‘‘VicRoads has a responsibility to teach people how to drive on our roads, and that includes teaching them how to drive with wildlife,’’ Ms Corke said. ‘‘There are families being ripped apart.’’

A government spokesman said a meeting had yet to be scheduled.