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Methods to reduce traffic crashes involving deer: what works and what does not

Hedlund, James H.; Curtis, Paul D.; Curtis, Gwen; Williams, Allan F.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
June 2004

More than 1.5 million traffic crashes involving deer, producing at least $1.1 billion in vehicle damage and about 150 fatalities, are estimated to occur annually in the United States. Deer-related crashes are increasing as both deer populations and vehicular travel increase. Many methods have been used in attempts to reduce deer crashes, often with little scientific foundation and limited evaluation. This article summarizes the methods and reviews the evidence of their effectiveness and the situations in which each may be useful. The only widely accepted method with solid evidence of effectiveness is well-designed and maintained fencing, combined with underpasses or overpasses as appropriate. Herd reduction is controversial but can be effective. Deer whistles appear useless. Roadside reflectors appear to have little long-term effect, although additional well-designed evaluations are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn. Both temporary passive signs and active signs appear promising in specific situations, but considerable research is required to evaluate long-term driver response and to improve and test deer detection technology for active signs. Other methods using advanced technology require substantial additional research and evaluation.