Animals hit by cars: what areas and animals you need to look out for in Victoria

Kangaroos crossing the road

Nicola Dowse

Posted August 29, 2022

Wildlife Victoria data shows that the number of animals killed or injured by a vehicle has almost doubled over the past three years, but the true number is likely to be much higher.

During the 2021-2022 financial year, 9,225 native animals were hit by a vehicle (HBV) on Victorian roads according to data from Wildlife Victoria.

That number represents a steady increase in animals killed or injured by drivers across the state since the 2017-2018 financial year, with a total of 35,378 cases reported to the emergency wildlife response service over that five-year period.

The true scale of wildlife hit by vehicles is potentially higher still, as the figures do not account for animals reported to other authorities, or not reported at all.

Lydia Kendray, Manager for Driver Training Operations at RACV, says the data demonstrates how important it is to know what to do should you come across wildlife while driving.

“Educated drivers are more likely to adapt their driving to suit the conditions and be prepared to make safer decisions in the unfortunate event where they encounter a wildlife situation,” Kendray says.

“This knowledge can help minimise serious injuries or death to road users, as well as reduce the vast number of wildlife injured on our roads every year.”

This interactive map shows locations of HBV incidents during 21-22 financial year. Data source: Wildlife Victoria  

Increasing wildlife injuries and deaths

In 2017-2018, Wildlife Victoria reported a total of 6,007 native animals hurt or killed by drivers in Victoria.

That number has grown every year since, with the most recent 2021-2022 data showing a more than 53 per cent increase over five years.

The only year where cases dropped was 2019-2020, where 5,865 HBV reports were made to Wildlife Victoria, likely due to the onset of COVID-19 and consequent lockdowns leading to fewer drivers on the road.

Animals being hit by vehicles isn’t a just a problem for regional and rural drivers either. Data from Wildlife Victoria shows that these incidents happen across the state, including within the suburbs of metropolitan Melbourne.

Explore the interactive map above to discover the reported HBV cases in your neighbourhood for the 2021-2022 financial year.


A graph showing the number of animals hit by vehicles on Victorian roads

Hit by vehicle reports to Wildlife Victoria have increased every year (except 2019/20) since 2017.

The animals most commonly hit by vehicles in Victoria

Data from the last five years shows that the most common native Australian animals hit by a vehicle on Victorian roads is also one of the nation’s most iconic.

Kangaroos are the most likely animal to be killed or injured by drivers in Victoria by far, with the marsupial representing more than half of the total number of HBV reports every single year.

The most recent data shows there were 4,896 HBV reports involving a kangaroo in 2021-2022 alone, thought the worst period was the 2018-2019 financial year in which kangaroos represented 62.9 per cent of wildlife injured or killed.  

Kangaroos are more active at dawn and dusk (when visibility is typically poorer), and often cross busy roads in search of the best grazing land, contributing to why so many are hit by vehicles.

Grass close to roads also tends to be greener and fresher due to water runoff, making it an attractive meal to kangaroos and other grazing animals.

Wallabies are the next most likely animals to be hit by a vehicle in Victoria (1,997 reports over five years), followed by wombats (1,530 reports).

Australian birdlife is also at high risk of being hit by vehicles, with magpies and cockatoos also among the most common HBV reports, in addition to koalas and ringtail possums.


A graph showing the most common animals hit by vehicles on Victorian roads

Kangaroos are the most common species of wildlife hit by vehicles every year, accounting for more than half of the reports.

How to drive safely around wildlife

Wildlife can appear unexpectedly while driving, but there are ways to ensure you and native animals stay safe.

Silvia Morris, Senior Instructor for RACV Drive School, says that it’s important to be particularly aware around dawn and dusk, and on roads lined with shrubbery that can entice animals.

“The safest option is to plan your trip to avoid driving in these higher risk times,” Morris says.

If that’s not possible, alter you driving to account for these conditions.

“Reduce your speed to give you greater response time and braking distance which could help you avoid an animal collision, and actively look ahead and to the sides of the road to see any animals nearby or approaching.”

High beams can be used at night when visibility is poorer, but only on roads where oncoming traffic is uncommon. Remember to dim your lights if you see a car approaching.

If you do spot an animal on the road while driving the most important thing to remember is not to swerve.

“Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially come off the road or hit another vehicle or a tree,” she says.

“If an animal has appeared unexpectedly and you do not have time to stop, brake as hard as you can and then release the brake just before impact to try and prevent the animal coming over the bonnet.”

What to do if you hit an animal while driving

Accidents happen to even the safest drivers. It’s important to know what to do if you hit an animal while driving or see an injured animal on the road.

The RACV advises that drivers should try to move the animal off the road if safe to do so, then call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 for help.

Here’s more on what to do if you hit an animal while driving.