A man is in a critical condition in hospital after a crash involving two cars and a kangaroo near Lithgow, NSW, on Friday night.
NSW Ambulance said at least 83 car crashes resulting in injuries had involved kangaroos so far this year in that state, and warned of an expected sharp rise in that number over winter.
A 19-year-old man was driving down Pipers Flat Road at Portland, in the NSW central west, about 7pm on Friday when his Holden Commodore struck a kangaroo and catapulted it into the path of a Ford Falcon ute travelling in the opposite direction.
The kangaroo smashed into the windscreen of the ute. The driver, a 32-year-old man, lost control of the ute, which then hit a guard rail.
The man sustained serious head injuries. He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being flown by helicopter to Westmead Hospital where he was in a critical condition on Saturday morning.
The occupants of the Holden avoided injury. The kangaroo died at the scene.
Ambulances were called out to 172 crashes involving kangaroos in NSW in 2017, an increase of 48 per cent on the previous year.
Eighty-two incidents were recorded between January and May this year but experts warned of an expected increase, saying that most kangaroo collisions occur in winter. The shorter days means kangaroos are on the move at peak traffic times.
"Stay alert and slow down, especially at sunrise and sunset when visibility is decreased and animals tend to be more active," a NSW Ambulance spokesperson said.
"Kangaroos travel in mobs so a kangaroo sighting, including deceased kangaroos on the road, is a sign there may be others nearby. Avoid swerving – it is safer to hit an animal than swerve and lose control of your vehicle."
In April, a motorcyclist died after hitting a kangaroo on the M4 at Claremont Meadows, near Penrith.
In November last year a man had a lucky escape in the Hunter region after his ute hit a kangaroo, which smashed through the windscreen and died in the back seat.
"It’s estimated that one in seven crashes on country roads involves animals," the ambulance spokesperson said. "Incidents include vehicles losing control and either rolling or colliding with trees and other obstacles, and sudden braking resulting in collisions with other vehicles."
Police are investigating the car crash in Portland.