Motorists are being warned they face a greater risk of animal strikes after reports of increased numbers of wildlife and livestock taking to the roads in search of feed and water.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said wildlife particularly kangaroos and wallabies, are being drawn to the roadside, attracted to the feed resulting from road surface water runoff.
“Farmers are also making the most of some of the last remaining available feed and are grazing their cattle on the roadsides in increasing numbers,” Mrs Pavey said.
Temporary black and yellow warning signs have been installed in areas where cattle graze and Roads and Maritime, in conjunction with the NSW Farmers Association, is urging motorists to slow down and give way to cattle crossing the road.
“A short delay to your trip is one small act of kindness for farmers doing it tough,” Mrs Pavey said.
“Roads and Maritime is also seeing rising numbers of escaped cattle in search of feed. These will be unaccompanied cattle that tend to be more unpredictable and present a serious road safety risk.”
President of NSW Farmers James Jackson says the Association has been working with Roads and Maritime to ensure there are warning signs in areas of high stock and agricultural vehicle movements.
“Warning signs raise awareness for all drivers there are increased numbers of stock and wildlife on the roads due to the current drought conditions,” Mr Jackson said.
“NSW Farmers will continue to be the voice for farmers around the state on important issues such as this.
The safety of farmers and livestock on road sides is a priority and we will continue to work with Roads and Maritime to increase awareness and safety for farmers, road users and animals.”
“Native animal ‘hot spots’ on major highways are also being highlighted with temporary warning signs to alert motorists to the increased number of wildlife entering the road, particularly on the Kings, Monaro and Snowy Mountains highways.”
On the north coast, Roads and Maritime has worked closely with experts and communities on the design of the Pacific Highway between Woolgoolga and Ballina and has eliminated many previous local hotspots on the old highway which had few koala safety measures.
Six vehicle activated koala signs and seven static safety signs have been installed on local roads in consultation with Ballina Shire Council and Friends of the Koala to increase driver awareness about koalas in the area.
On Lismore Road two koala warning signs have been ordered and are scheduled to be installed by mid-September.
Some important safety tips to follow when traveling on country roads:
• Be aware – animals are more active near waterholes and creeks, and harder to see at sunrise and sunset
• Reduce your speed – slow down when you see animal warning signs
• Stay alert – animals are unpredictable, so expect the unexpected
• Brake safely – only brake when it is safe to do so if you see an animal on the road
• Never swerve – it is safer to hit an animal than swerve and lose control of your vehicle.
For injured wildlife, motorists are encouraged to call WIRES on 1300 094 737 and to report unaccompanied livestock call NSW Police on 000.
For more road safety advice visit www.roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au.