Despite the common perception tourists have, not everything in Australia is trying to kill us. Sure, we’ve got some dangerous wildlife about, but most of the time, we won’t encounter the wildlife while at home, or driving around on our daily commutes.
Kangaroos can be an exception. With the red kangaroo growing over 6 feet tall and weighing 90 kilograms, their size and weight can serve up a ton of force and damage. Any encounter you have with a roo can become really nasty really fast – even if you’re in your car.
That’s why knowing how to avoid hitting a kangaroo is so important. Here's a look at some useful tips you should know when driving around on Australian roads.
Know Where They Are
It may sound obvious to say it’s important to know where kangaroos live, but many drivers don’t recognise how diverse their habitat is. While you might expect to see them racing across the red sand of the Outback, they're also found in bushland, along the sea, and even in urban areas.
Take extra care when you know for sure kangaroos are likely to be nearby. But don’t assume they're not around if you're in an environment like bushland or farmland. While it may seem unlikely a kangaroo could hop up to the end of your driveway, YouTube videos prove otherwise.
Adjust Your Driving
Everyone knows speeding is dangerous. That’s why many people sit a few kilometres under the speed limit. Driving 55 in a 60 zone means you’re not at risk of accidentally going too fast and getting a speeding ticket, but it's also not so slow as to irritate other drivers behind you.
Usually, keeping close to the speed limit is the ideal way to drive. But sometimes, you need to slow down because of roadworks, school zones, and other factors. The same applies when dealing with roos.
If you head into an area where kangaroos are known to live, you’ll likely see a sign with a recommended speed limit as well. But since kangaroos can hit a top speed of up to 70 km/h, it's OK to slow down considerably if you come across one unexpectedly. Other drivers might not like it at first, but once they see why, they'll understand, and should slow down too.
What to Do If You Do Encounter a Roo
While you may not be keen to encounter a kangaroo on the open road, the feeling is likely mutual (they don’t like the look of cars either). The exception is when there is a territorial issue in play. If that's the case, they may be more willing to hold their ground, or even attempt to attack your car.
If you come across a kangaroo standing in the road, make a quick assessment of the reason they're there, before you decide to drive forward. Specifically, look to see if there's a kangaroo in their pouch or nearby. If so, the risk of them taking on territorial behaviour goes up a notch.
If you've assessed the situation and it appears calm, it's OK to drive through slowly. Try to avoid the roo without putting yourself at risk (for example by driving off-road). And don’t put other drivers at risk by driving on the wrong side of the road.
Kangaroos aren’t always a danger
While kangaroos aren’t fun to come across when you’re driving, in general, seeing one up close can actually be a real thrill. If you do have the chance to look at one up close and personal, it’s bound to be more of a special encounter than a bad one.
Just be sure to keep a safe distance, a kangaroo kick can really pack a punch!
What other safety tips do you have to avoid hitting kangaroos? Let us know in the comments below.