Voices

Never try and swerve around an animal on the road…

I’ve seen some bizarre things but one day in 2013 was a first… a man chasing an echidna… on the freeway. Here’s what to do if you see an animal on the road.

WE WERE CRUISING on the Calder freeway at 110km/h. It was a sunny day. Dry.   We were on our way to a nice little gathering, and all was good with the world.  

Then we noticed a couple of cars slewed to a halt in front. This was not so good.

I’m starting to think about calling 000, and wondering where the first aid kit is… but the situation didn’t seem right. There was no skid marks.  And there were people running around rather randomly. On the freeway. So, of course, we slowed down, we had to, the Calder had now become a one-lane freeway. The vehicles behind us, including a B-double or two also came to a stop.

Up front there didn’t seem to be any damaged cars, no sign of distress. I jumped out of the car anyway, to see what could be done. Obviously there’s something amiss, you don’t just stop your car on a freeway for now good reason. Maybe someone needs a push out the way, a tow?   

Then I notice a guy with a towel darting around, being watched by the others.  

????  Really confused now.

Next I see a little shape darting around on the ground. It’s an echidna, and I can think of only one explanation. They must have seen the echidna on the road, stopped their car – and not on the side, but on the road – then got out and started chasing around the freeway trying to “save” it.

Now, echidnas are prickly so difficult to pick up, and they can move pretty quick when scared, hence all the running around and general pandemonium. Obviously, this one was terrified. But it’s not the only scared mammal around at the moment; I’m thinking of all the oncoming traffic and that we’re in the middle of the freeway for no good reason. So I quickly grab the echidna, sprint to the side of the road and chuck it over the fence. Someone calls out the echidna might be hurt. Fair point, but let’s look at the bigger picture here – bruised echidna or multi-car pile up. Okay, that evaluation didn’t take long, and the sooner we got this insanity out of the way the better. I leap back into the car and we think we beat the manufacturer’s 0-100 time by half a second. Phew.

So, the reason I’m writing this is simple.  If you didn’t already know the rules about animals on the road, here they are:

  1. Do not stop your car on the freeway (or any other road) and then go running about on the road trying to save animals. You are endangering yourself, other people and yes, even the animal.
  2. If you see an animal when you’re driving do not manoeuvre try to avoid it. Sounds cruel, but the chances of you avoiding the animal are just as good if you maintain your course. The reason is said animal is very likely to change direction at the last second, going under your wheels anyway. On the other hand, any avoiding action you take dramatically increases the chance of you having an accident, or causing one to vehicles oncoming or following.
  3. Avoid travelling at dusk or dawn as this is when you’re most likely to see wildlife on the road.

PS: the title image is not the echidna in question. That photo was taken somewhere in Victoria, and no animals were harmed in the process.

 


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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper