I killed a roo today.
As you may or may not know, I’m currently on my learner license. This entails 75 hours (minimum) of supervised driving in a wide variety of conditions. Some people do ‘fake’ the logbook, but I’m interested in becoming a good driver, not just someone who can pass a test. With this in mind, I have exposed myself to diverse driving conditions, many of which are not required by the licensing system.
Like night-driving on a country road, for example.
I was supposed to go for a drive on that road this morning, but hadn’t slept sufficiently to go. Instead, Mum rang at 5pm and asked if I’d like to do a night drive down that road instead? It’s two-and-a-half hours there and back, and really forces the driver to concentrate and be aware, what with the gravel roads, the multitude of side-roads and “driveways”, not to mention the wildlife.
So I agreed. Dad got in the back, Mum got in the front, and off we went just as the sun was lowering over the horizon.
Before I go any further, I must back-track; the first time I went out near dusk, Mum saw a roo on the side of the road, said “roo!”, and my response time was abysmal. It took me a good thirty seconds to react, and at least a full minute to finally slow down, and I never did quite stop. Needless to say, this is quite dangerous in areas where there is wildlife, and something had to be done about it. Thankfully that roo had stayed on the side of the road, but there was no promise that the next one would.
So Mum and Dad took me out on that road (a different road to the one we’re discussing today) during the day to practise. They would randomly call out “roo!” in order for me to practice stopping quickly and safely. After the first couple of “roo sightings”, I was getting to be quite quick and efficient at stopping to ‘avoid’ the roo.
So back to tonight. We were about 45 minutes into the first leg of the trip (so roughly halfway). It was full dark now, and I was scanning the road; far, middle, close, rear, far, middle, close, rear, while also scanning side-to-side, as I’d been taught. I saw the roo on the side of the road, still in the bush, a fraction before Mum called out. I reacted, pressing (but not slamming!) the brake, holding the wheel straight, and stopped quickly whilst maintaining control, as I’d been taught.
I hit the roo.
Nobody in the car was injured, but the poor roo was dead before we could even get out (or so Dad says; I reckon I saw him breathing for a few minutes after). There was very minimal damage to the car (a small crack in the left parking light, and the left bumper was slightly raised). But that poor roo … he was lying there, bleeding from his mouth, one leg clearly broken in at least two places, panting.
I felt so guilty!
My parents both said I reacted well, and I could have done nothing to avoid him, since he hopped straight out in front of me when I was already slowing down. They reckon every driver hits at least one animal in their life. They reckon that most accidents are caused by people swerving to try and avoid an animal. So I’m fairly sure I did the right thing.
But I’m sure that roo wasn’t too impressed.