For Kayley Horstman and Sarah Tate, it was just another scenic drive through rural south Queensland.
But their drive south of Ipswich on Sunday quickly took a dramatic turn which nearly cost them their lives.
“We are just blessed to be alive,” Ms Horstman, 19, told Yahoo News Australia.
As they travelled through the suburb of Peak Crossing, a kangaroo suddenly appeared in the road.
Startled by its quick dart into their path and not wanting to hit the animal, 22-year-old Ms Tate swerved away, not knowing such a move would send their car tumbling across the dirt.
The vehicle flipped over three times before coming to rest on its side.
“Once the car came to a complete stop Sarah grabbed my hand and said ‘I am so sorry,’” Ms Horstman recalled.
Remarkably the pair escaped without any substantial injuries and began to clamber out of the car through the shattered sky roof.
“When we first got out of the car we were both in a lot of shock and pretty much just grabbed each other and hugged each other because we were so grateful to be alive.”
Examining Ms Tate’s car, it was quickly evident the vehicle was a complete write-off after suffering extensive damage.
Emergency crews quickly arrived and the pair, who were in a state of shock, were taken to Ipswich Hospital by ambulance where they spent the next five hours completing x-rays and blood tests.
While the extent of their injuries a week on is merely bad bruising to their bodies which will most likely disappear in the space of a few weeks, there was a long-lasting effect from the crash.
The incident prompted a permanent change in perspective when it came to wildlife in the road.
“It has definitely affected us mentally and are very cautious of everything when we drive now as it just goes to show how quickly your life can be taken,” Ms Horstman said.
“I just hope people learn from us not to swerve for animals.”
Never swerve for wildlife, expert says
The two women want to use their brush with death to warn others about the correct procedure when encountering kangaroos and other animals while driving.
“If we were to give any advice to anyone about our accident it would be to be more cautious on wildlife and the surroundings,” Ms Horstman said.
She said while it may be distressing to hit animals head on, there is no point in sacrificing your own life for that of wildlife in the road.
“We encountered four dead kangaroos on our drive so it just goes to show how easily it can happen,” she pointed out.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, NRMA Safer Driving School instructor Noor Sheerazi confirmed the correct procedure is to not apply any sudden movement to the steering wheel when coming across kangaroos or other animals in the road.
“If you’re driving on a country road and unexpectedly encounter wildlife, the best thing to do is start breaking steadily,” she said.
“Don’t swerve, don’t move your steering wheel. You never know what is on the side of the road and how your car may react.
“If you have time, also quickly check to see what is behind you.”
According to Road Safety data, one in every 41 casualty crashes on country roads involves hitting an animal.
Ms Sheerazi points out that with the drought ravaging Australia’s east, animals are more likely to wander into roads in search of food and water.
“They are startled by headlights or a car heading towards them unexpectedly, meaning their next movement could be very unpredictable,” she said.
“The NRMA’s number one piece of advice in this situation to be really aware of wildlife when driving on country roads, and to always stay alert when behind the wheel.”
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