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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cost of roadkill damage hits $1m [23feb06]

The Mercury: Cost of roadkill damage hits $1m [23feb06]

SURGING numbers of collisions with animals on Tasmanian roads has seen the RACT faced with insurance claims of almost $1 million and rising.

The RACT's insurance wing has seen the number of claims due to "roadkill-type incidents" increase five-fold in the past six years, and now deals with 350 such claims in a year.

RACT insurance manager Peter Eaton said the claims related to damage caused by cars striking an animal, as well as damage caused when cars were damaged trying to avoid an animal on the road.

He said the RACT data showed 80 per cent of roadkill claims involved wallabies or kangaroos, followed by wombats, cats, cows and possums.

Mr Eaton said claims also included dogs, horses, deer, devils and sheep.

"Our data shows the number of claims has been increasing continuously each year for the past six years," he said.

Mr Eaton said most claims related to incidents occurring on the outskirts of cities, but other hotspots were New Norfolk, Bicheno, Coles Bay, Triabunna, Bothwell, Campbell Town, and Deloraine.

Mr Eaton said more than half the collisions occurred between 6pm and midnight, with 4am to 7am accounting for 10 per cent of such crashes.

The average cost of each claim was $2800, he said.

He said the RACT's advice was for motorists to slow down in known animal hotspots.

"Unfortunately, trying to avoid colliding with an animal on the road can actually lead to a worse incident, particularly if a motorist loses control of the vehicle and hits a guidepost or a tree, and the reality is something like that could be a fatal crash," Mr Eaton said.

"Our advice is for people to just slow down to give themselves a better chance of avoiding an animal on the road."

Last year, Tasmanian researchers found that three animals were hit by cars every 10km during a 15,000km study on the state's roads.

They estimated more than 113,000 animals were killed by traffic every year, although with the study not focusing on country roads the actual figure is thought to be much higher.


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