A dramatic increase in collisions between cars and animals in South Australia has prompted the motoring organization RAA to issue a safety warning to drivers.

Latest RAA Insurance data shows that animal collision claims almost doubled in the last financial year. In 2017/18 there were 1,734 claims, compared to 991 in the previous year.

The surge is being attributed to an increase in the kangaroo population. Latest State Government figures show the red kangaroo population is currently 43 percent higher than usual, while western grey numbers are 35 percent above average.

“Kangaroos are involved in most of the animal collision claims, at around 60 percent, but that figure is much higher in rural areas,” said RAA Insurance Claims Manager Hayley Cain. “Dogs come in second at around 15 percent, followed by wombats, emus and cattle, while we have also had an increase in collisions involving goats last financial year.’’

Cain said the cost of colliding with an animal could range from a couple of thousand dollars to a car being written off, depending on what type of animal is hit and the speed involved. She also advised drivers not to brake heavily or swerve to avoid hitting an animal.

“If you did so you could lose control of your car or hit an oncoming vehicle, which would increase the possibility of being involved in a more serious crash,” she said. “Where possible, drivers should safely reduce their speed to avoid a collision with an animal, remain alert and remember that animals can be obscured by roadside vegetation.

“Drivers should also try to avoid driving at dusk and dawn in rural areas, as this is when animals are more active.”

The RAA suggests that any driver involved in a collision in which an animal is killed should remove it from the road if it is safe to do so to help reduce potential danger to other road users. Drivers are also asked to contact the Traffic Management Centre on 1800 018 313 or the nearest police station.