Kangaroos and Vehicles

kangaroo warning sign image

Canberra is unique among Australian cities in having such large populations of free-ranging kangaroos within its urban area.

Canberra, the ACT and adjacent areas in NSW, are 'hot spots' for motor vehicle collisions involving kangaroos. NSW police have attended far more collisions in the Yass-Goulburn-Queanbeyan area than anywhere else, including other NSW country towns and rural districts. In Canberra, rangers commonly record more than 1,000 roadside kangaroo attendances per year, and estimate there are twice as many collisions as attendances. This is not reducing the kangaroo populations, nor is the annual increase in the number of collisions due merely to expansion of Canberra and increased numbers of cars. The rate of motor vehicle collisions involving kangaroos (per registered vehicle) has been increasing significantly.

In a 2008 telephone survey of 600 Canberra residents, 17 per cent of the respondents who had ever owned an ACT registered vehicle stated that the vehicle had hit a kangaroo on an ACT road. These collisions have economic and social impacts, as well as raise animal welfare concerns. Information and data obtained from motor insurers show that a high proportion of the ACT/NSW 'hit animal' claims come from the Canberra area. Insurers often issue media releases in winter/early spring to warn drivers of the risk.

Contributing Factors

Factors contributing to motor vehicle collisions involving kangaroos in the ACT include:

  • high kangaroo numbers and the extensive open space areas
  • high speed roads with frequent traffic
  • driver inattention and ignorance of potentially high risk road sections
  • driving too fast.

When Do Collisions Occur?

From data collection and analysis in the ACT, New South Wales and some other states, the following observations can be made about collisions with kangaroos:

  • the peak time for crashes is between 5:00 and 10:00 PM
  • the rate of crashes is higher in winter
  • there are more collisions following long periods of dry weather
  • there are more collisions with kangaroos near the full moon phase than the new moon phase.

Seriousness of the Collisions?

Kangaroos account for the highest proportion of fatal collisions among all collisions with animals. Collisions with other objects occur either as secondary collisions following a collision with a kangaroo, or as a result of drivers attempting to avoid a kangaroo.

Reducing Collisions

Worldwide, there has been much effort to develop strategies and techniques to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle collisions with wildlife. The closest parallel to the Australian situation is collisions between deer and vehicles in North America and Europe. Techniques used there to reduce collisions have been considered in Australia.

Driver education and the use of fencing and/or underpasses are considered to be the most recommended techniques. However, fencing and underpasses are not suitable in all locations and are expensive to construct and maintain. Wildlife warning reflectors and ultrasonic devices have been proven to be ineffective.

Refer to Section 3.9.4 of the ACT Kangaroo Management Plan (PDF 6.8MB) for an analysis of techniques used for reducing vehicle collisions.

ACT Kangaroo Management Plan:
Vehicle Collisions and Collision Avoidance Policies

Modifying Attributes of the Road: Inclusion of road attributes that may reduce the incidence of vehicle–kangaroo collisions will be considered in the design of new or upgraded major urban arterial roads in the ACT and will be subject to cost-benefit analysis. The main attributes to be considered are fencing and underpasses.

Studies will be encouraged that:

  1. improve understanding of kangaroo behaviour in relation to roads and collision mitigation measures;
  2. assess the effectiveness of road design features aimed at reducing the incidence of vehicle–kangaroo collisions.
Modifying Animal Behaviour: Given the lack of scientifically based evidence to date as to the effectiveness of currently available devices:
  1. ‘Wildlife reflectors’ will not be installed on ACT roads for the purpose of deterring kangaroos from entering the roadway;
  2. ‘Ultrasonic’ deterrents will not be endorsed for fitting to vehicles.
Modifying Driver Behaviour: Driver awareness programs will be periodically undertaken aimed at encouraging slower speeds and extra alertness in ‘black-spot’ areas for vehicle–kangaroo collisions. Partnerships will be sought with other interested organisations for such campaigns.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do to Minimise the Risk of Having a Motor Collision with a Kangaroo?

  • Drive more cautiously in the evening and at night
  • drive more cautiously in the kangaroo ‘hot spots’ (listed below and marked with the large warning signs illustrated below)
  • slow down if you see a kangaroo. Other kangaroos may be active in the area as well
  • be aware of what is on the edges of the road ahead, as well as the middle
  • appoint a passenger as a kangaroo 'spotter'.

What Should I Do if I Hit a kangaroo?

Report all accidents involving injured wildlife to Access Canberra on 13 22 81. Be sure to explain whether the animal is dead or alive and its exact location.

In addition, all accidents involving a motor vehicle should be reported to the police on 131 444.

Hot Spots

Exceptional Hot Spots for Motor Vehicle Collisions with Kangaroos:

  • Fairbairn Avenue
  • Majura Road
  • Hindmarsh Drive
  • Mugga Lane.

Hot Spots for Motor Vehicle Collisions with Kangaroos:

  • Limestone Avenue
  • Sulwood Drive
  • William Hovell Drive
  • Antill Street
  • Woodcock Drive
  • Monaro Highway
  • Long Gully Road
  • Yamba Drive
  • Athllon Drive
  • Tuggeranong Parkway
  • Tharwa Drive
  • Erindale Drive.