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Deer Pose Serious Road Hazards

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Every year there are more than 1.5 million crashes involving deer. They
cause an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damages, 150 lives lost, and
more than 10,000 injuries. The average accident involving a single
vehicle and a deer does about $2,000 in damage to the vehicle.

Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) records vehicle-deer accidents, the figures are not exact
because what constitutes a reportable accident varies among states.

A new report titled “Methods to Reduce Traffic Crashes Involving
Deer: What Works and What Does Not,” commissioned by the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), examines the effectiveness of
various tactics used to keep deer away. The report examined a long list
of methods to help reduce collisions with deer and found that few
actually could be proven effective.

Reminding drivers to slow down in areas prone to deer doesn’t seem
to help, the report said. Education campaigns for drivers don’t lower
deer collisions, unless they specify a certain time and place to slow
down. The same goes for passive signs.

One measurable change with a reduction in deer collisions came
from the use of temporary flashing “hazard” signs on a section of
roadway crossing a deer-migration route. It slowed drivers by
approximately 8 mph and showed a 50- to 70-percent drop in deer
collisions when compared to data for that same stretch of roadway in
previous years. Active alert signs that are triggered by deer in the
vicinity are being considered.

The IIHS report concluded there’s a lack of evidence that deer whistles help to keep deer from darting into your path.

Tall deer fences have proved to be effective in reducing the
number of collisions; however, the fences cost more than $42,000 per
mile, and they interrupt migratory patterns. Yet, deer fences are the
only proven-effective solution that dramatically reduce the number of
car-deer collisions and are worth the cost, the report concluded.

Since collisions with deer are such an important issue to be
addressed, the IIHS report calls for states to identify deer crashes
separately, rather than lumping all crashes with animals together, and
to standardize the reporting.

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