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Roo’s, Mu’s, Moo’s and Neigh’s – How to Prevent An Animal Strike

Last week we released our 2017 Crash Index which at a high level, outlined trends in statistics we have gathered over the last few years. As we stated last week, given the niche nature of our product and our desire to be truly tailored to the off-road market, our experience will be a true reflection of the types of accidents that do happen off and on-road. Over the next two weeks we will focus on the most highly represented claim types and provide some tips for how to prevent similar incidents – after all, no one wants to be without their pride and joy right?

Single Vehicle Accidents

Whilst the graphs from last week showed the various types of claims we’ve processed, many are within normal parameters for a motor insurance portfolio. The one area that really stands out for us are single vehicle accidents. These are of course made up of claims on and off-road. This week we will look at some of the more common on-road incidents:

1) Animal Strike – It’s no revelation that where we travel even when the roads are sealed, there is risk of our furry coat-of-arms critters jumping out for a look at that shiny front grille. The damage from such a strike can be anywhere from a slightly bent bulbar to a destroyed engine or interior to a total loss. There are plenty of wild animals in the outback, from your common kangaroo, wombats and emu’s, through to the more scary and dangerous cows, horses and camels. The latter will put an almost certain stop to your holiday and render your vehicle un-drivable. None of these animals know the difference between the verge and the road. They can and will dart out, giving you only a few split seconds to decide how to react.

Before we get to that, let’s talk about the danger periods. Many will know that dusk and dawn are when these fellas are out feeding – so if you must drive at these times, do so with extreme care and vigilance. Generally, night driving isn’t recommended because of the amount of wildlife. Regardless, you should try and limit driving at night time. They’re also more likely to be close to the road where there has been a dry spell; seeking out the grass that readily grows on the sides of the road.

Like most things, prevention is the best cure, but there will be unavoidable times where you will find yourself needing to drive during the danger periods. During these times it’s important to be vigilant – use your lights and be on the lookout. Always drive to the conditions, if you need to make an emergency adjustment to your steering inputs or throttle inputs, are you going too fast to make a save? Drop back 10% to give yourself some leeway. Ultimately though, if you are faced with the worst case scenario, be aware of your surroundings. Often, the best thing you can do is continue the path your on – a swift steering manoeuvre can be devastating at 100km/h. This is exacerbated by a loaded vehicle that may also be towing. Get off the loud pedal, gently apply your brakes to stabilise and shift load to the front axle and continue on your course, unless you are certain it is safe to adjust.

2) Minor/carpark type damage – Embarrassing, yes – avoidable, yes! There’s nothing worse than putting a ding in your tailgate backing into a bollard or scraping the side of your tray coming out of a parking spot. Ultimately we are all driving around in vehicles that are larger in general size than the average sedan. One thing I’ve always banged on about with a lot of the new commercial vehicles being sold today (and dual cabs are getting more and more popular) is the lack of obvious safety equipment such as sensors and cameras. Whereas these days a budget compact will have variants of each, many over-5m long vehicles don’t get a mention until you go up the spec and price range a couple of rungs. So my view here is this, if you have 5, 10 or 20k to spend on mods for your vehicle, put a small fraction of that into a camera system. This isn’t just about panel damage – too many children have been hurt as a result of these blind spots. If you have kids, this could be the best investment you’ve ever made.

3) Loss of Control – The average vehicle age in our portfolio is higher than general motor books and this suits us just fine! However, many of these older vehicles either have no collision avoidance functionality such as ESP or traction control, or have older versions of these systems. Now I’m not saying I’m a fan of electronics but you can’t debate the safety net they create for those of us who just aren’t as skilled as others. Not having to concern yourself with how much right or left foot (if you’re versed in left foot braking!) to put in to stop or control a slide, or not to slide at all in the first place takes skill, experience and most importantly – common sense. That last virtue will stop you from getting yourself into trouble to start with. So the next time you approach that long right hander, remember what tyres you’re running, where your centre of gravity is and wipe off some speed. If you wanted that sort of driving you shouldn’t have bought a fourby!

Have you got any tips to add to prevent the above types of damage?

Happy Touring!

Kalen

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Comments 22

  1. Paul Finn

    G’day Kalen
    I sent a email asking why I cannot access the site for insurance request
    When I try to get into the site it tells me I’m not authorised to access it
    Bit odd I think
    I have 2 Nissan patrols and am trying to get a quote from you guys
    No joy so far and no reply to my email from 3 weeks ago
    I have a very bad accident a few years back involving a cow
    Made a heck of a mess of my 4×4 and me , I’ve had 18 lots of surgery since
    Would this have any reason for not getting a reply ?? Just a thought,that’s all ,
    Hope to hear back from you
    Cheers
    Paul Finn
    0412900145

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      Kalen

      Paul – i’m going to get one of my guys to give you a call just as soon as im done with this message.

      So sorry about that – sometimes things slip the cracks and it appears that’s what has happened here.

      We will be in touch soon.

      Kal

  2. Adrian Wild

    Hi Kalen, thanks for publishing this – while of course it is common sense, it’s always a good idea to be reminded of the sensible precautions we need to take when far from home and/or off-road.
    Not sure if it shows up in your statistics, but another thing for off-roaders to watch out for these days is grass fire caused by the modern high-temperature exhaust systems.
    One of our travelling companions lost a brand new Prado on the Canning this year, because a spinifex build-up underneath caught fire – vehicle and contents destroyed in five minutes!!

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      Kalen

      Hi Adrian,

      it’s not come up in our claims trends but a very important one to remember, especially these days with newer diesels employing DPF’s, which essentially runs at hundreds of degrees in temperature to burn-off diesel soot.

      A very valid point – always be mindful of vegetation gathering around your exhaust and where you park a hot vehicle when you stop.

      Thanks Adrian

    2. Stephen Davies

      Ford have just released a notification about grass buildup around the exhaust and high temperature radiant heat when parked on dry grass. Just thought you should be aware…

  3. Dom Lauria

    Hi Kalen,
    Good article and thanks for the tips. I have unfortunately have stuck a couple of our furry friends over the years. luckily only minor damage to the 4by
    Do you know if there is any research on those little whistlely things that sit on your bull bar – do they work???

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  4. Smiley

    I fitted a Shuroo, on my GT Falcon and my 100 series also my wifes Corolla ,I have never hit an animal from dawn to dusk,altho I avoid these times when I can .You still have to drive to conditions and there are times you are vulnerable but you will be safer with a Shuroo. I found a deduction in birdstrike and less insect gut . You will have to be careful if you drive into a mob of roos because they panic and can run into your car as what happened to my sister out on a lonely bush road ,the roos panicked and crashed into her car with minor damage . Dogs don,t like them either . Even some people can hear them ,not me tho ‘ I am half deaf.
    I have driven from Darwin to Adelaide ,all central Queensland and down the east coast and never hit a Skippy .My son borrowed my Jeep with no Shuroo fitted and he hit a roo with in 100km’s of home .

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      1. John Staring

        I have used the cheaper (about $6 a pair) plastic shoo roos on many Nullarbor crossings over the past …..well, since the early 1970’s. As stated on the packet, the angle at which they produce the, inaudible to humans, noise is narrow. Animals sitting on or near the road seem to move, but others coming in from the flanks are too mobile to sense the sound in time. Only strikes I have had have been from the flanks approach. I believe the much more expensive electronic devises have a much wider angle. I do believe in these devises.

  5. Neil Sheehan

    How to Prevent an Animal Strike? As the article says – be vigilant. Animals are unpredictable, and can (and do) make sudden changes to direction. On a recent trip to outback NSW, after doing a lot of research, I thought I’d try the well known “Sonic Animal Repeller” (ie a high pitched whistle). One of the on line reviews stated that these DO NOT repel animals, but they alert them that something is nearby, and that you still had to be aware of the animals. During the trip, it was amazing how many heads would pop up from the scrub to look for the noise – often where you didn’t expect there to be an animal. So, do they alert the animal – YES, do they repel the animal – NO. Once they are alerted, and you can see them easier, it’s up to you to be ready for action. These noise makers appeared to work on ‘roos, emus, sheep, and birds, but not goats. Did I hit any animals, no, but got mighty close a really stupid emu who decided to turn directly in front of the truck after running parallel to the road. Basically it all comes back to what’s said in the article – be alert.

  6. Dave

    Hi,
    I would consider myself a seasoned outback driver having commuted back and forth from our country property for over 25 years with generally one leg of the journey always been done in the night Having good lights and washing off 10 or so K’s has helped avoid a lot of impacts and has certainly meant that I have the opportunity to wash off a lot more speed, and limit the damage, when the unfortunate has happened.

    On a recent 3,500 k trip through central NSW I did no night driving at all yet was amazed by the amount of wildlife on the roads during the day. Goats are everywhere, mostly not on the road on major roads but plenty on the less frequently used roads. The roos were an absolute menace, on the road between Cobar and White Cliffs I was down to <70 kph between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm and there were skippys everywhere, I'm not sure if it was lack of food or water that had them on the move during the middle of the day but it was downright hazardous.

    I have been doing the 'grey nomad' thing for the last 3 years and I have seen this as an ever increasing trend.

    The other 'gripe' that I have is the amount of carcasses that are left on the road, sure trucks can hit these things and keep driving without any consequence but being caught with a 50kg roo carcass in the middle of your lane, and an oncoming vehicle, doesn't make for a very pleasant scenario.

    1. Post
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      Kalen

      It can be perfectly fine to drive at night, i agree – but great lighting, reduced speed and super vigilance is the key!

      Not the best story, but on the way back from the Big Red Bash a couple of years ago, we had to start our transport leg after the end of the concert – aiming to get to Windorah, having a sleep then continuing. I led in the Patrol as i had lights and frontal protection, while my brother in law Shane was transporting a stock Amarok back for the guys at Unsealed 4X4. Well, the frontal protection was great, but i soon found that my 20amp fuses for the driving lights and light bar were not enough. After one change i decided not to tempt fate and kept driving with stock lighting. Needless to say very dodgy! slow and steady and always looking out for the second roo, because the first one ain’t the one that will get you!

      I’ve since removed the lightbar from the circuit and upgraded the bulbs in the main and driving lights to Narva units – incredible difference!

      End of the day we made it out, but geez it makes for a much more tiring drive without the right lights!

  7. Michael Dent

    At almost 80 years old and having driven worldwide in 17 different jurisdictions, including extreme speed in one area, my recipe for a trouble free journey has always been to be able to STOP in the distance that I can see. Do the math, you may add an extra 2 to 5 minutes per hour to the trip but that is a small price to pay to feel confident that you will finish in one piece.

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  8. Breac

    Just remember people that kangaroos love bright lights as well and love to use your lights so they can see where they’re going so the Better your lights are and the further they go the more chance you’ve got a roos hopping across the road it’s a Catch 22 if you don’t drop your lights down the rooms will stay standing in the middle of the road so drop your lights sound your horn and they will take off I do 6000 kilometres a week and half of that is at night time in some of the worst places in Australia for kangaroos and have noticed this year after year cheers WA truck driver

  9. Peter

    Shuroo hasn’t worked for me at all during 8 years of use – except once. On this occasion I hit a roo on the front of the bullbar where the shuroo was mounted, it destroyed the shuroo (and the roo unfortunately). From my travels, I wouldn’t bother with one. My tip – drive to the conditions, but that doesn’t eliminate roo strikes either, as they can rapidly dart out from vegetation on the side of the road and into the sides of vehicles too.

  10. Ian Bennetts

    I have driven many thousands of kilometres between Darwin and Brisbane over the past 10-12 years and have used the Supercheap “shuroo device ” which only cost about $6.00 .I have found these to be very effective and in particular along the plains around Longreach- You can actually see the wildlife poke up their heads , take a look and move away from the road. I was sceptical at first but after using them on 3 vehicles and having zero animal strikes on all 3 vehicles, I reckon its the best money ever spent.

  11. Rob

    Nice reading. Both for positives and negs. Common sense factors really. A bit like the fools who try and dictate their reasoning re driving AT a posted speed limit, instead of the slower and far safer speeds. Again, always common sense and “horses for courses”.

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