PHILLIP Island has recorded the highest rate of insurance claims for vehicle collisions with animals in Gippsland, according to data released by RACV insurance.
Twenty-five claims for collisions involving animals were made in Phillip Island in 2012-2013, followed by 24 in Sale and 23 in Traralgon.
The Wellington Shire was listed as the state’s worst area for collisions with animals based on the number of incidents.
Wellington recorded 218 claims and East Gippsland recorded 125 claims, compared to South Gippsland’s 93 claims and Bass Coast’s 66.
However, when you take into account the East Gippsland Shire covers an area over 20 times the size of the Bass Coast Shire and the Wellington Shire is over 10 times the size, it is evident that both the Bass Coast Shire and the South Gippsland Shire are both danger zones.
Owner of Phillip Island Bodyworks, Brian Witkowski, has customers coming in regularly for repairs after collisions with animals and in particular, wallabies and kangaroos.
“There’s probably a couple a month for body repairs,” he said.
“It seems to be on a regular basis, all over the Island.”
RACV General Manager of Insurance, Paul Northey, said collisions with animals happened at all hours, but most occurred at dawn or dusk.
“Kangaroos are the most common animal to be struck by vehicles that resulted in an insurance claim,” he said.
“RACV received a total of 3641 kangaroo-related claims, costing on average of $3685.”
Statistics show that the month of May is the worst time across the state for animal collisions.
“The months of March, April, May and June recorded the highest number of collisions across the state with at least 250 claims associated with kangaroos, dogs or wombats,” Northey said.
“In May alone the figure was almost double with 459 incidents.”
Mr Northey said motorists should slow down when travelling round bends and over rises as these could obscure animals that may have wandered onto the side of the road.
“You should also be cautious if there are warning signs advising of wildlife in the area, or if you see dead animals on the side of the road,” he added.
The RACV encourages motorists who find sick, orphaned or injured wildlife to call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.
Mr Northey said motorists should make sure that they have adequate comprehensive insurance coverage to ensure they recovered all costs following a collision.
“Colliding with an animal, whether it is on a country highway or an urban road, not only puts you and your family at risk of serious injury, it can also prove very costly,” he said.
“Adequate insurance coverage is important for repair or replacement of your vehicle.”
The RACV has five tips for avoiding a collision with an animal:
1. Take extra care at dawn and dusk when animals are more active.
2. Be more alert on road crests and bends, and on roads with shrubs or bush on the side, as these can obscure animals.
3. If you see an animal, brake, but do not swerve. It may be your first instinct to swerve but to do so could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and possibly run into another car.
4. Be mindful of signs that advise motorists if animals are in the area.
5. If you notice dead animals, slow down, as it is a sign that animals are in the area.