High-Tech Roadkill Prevention, Coming Soon to a Highway Near You

By Nina Bai | October 9, 2008 12:12 pm

roadkillIn ecosystems across the country, the automobile has moved to the top of the food chain, meaning that thousands of moose, cougars, and bears are meeting their ends on asphalt. Now, the Colorado Department of Transportation is hoping that high-tech wild-life detectors might cut down on roadkill.

The testing site for the new detectors is a particularly deadly mile of Highway 160, where 70 percent of all reported collisions between 1999 and 2003 were between cars and animals. Part of the problem is that the stretch is smack in the middle of an important migration corridor for deer.

Officials buried cables along either side of the highway to emit an electromagnetic field. When a large animal enters the area and disturbs the field, the system triggers signs that flash “Wildlife Detected” to oncoming traffic. A separate sensor helps the system distinguish between wildlife and cars. The new detectors only sense large game, so small critters  like raccoons and spotted salamanders will still need to look both ways.

Other roadkill prevention methods include fencing and laser sensors. But fencing would hinder migration routes and laser sensors can be triggered by falling snow and tumbleweed.

So will it work? We’ll know soon enough: The CDOT is monitoring traffic speed to see if the new system, which will cost about $1 million, actually causes drivers to slow down.

Image: flickr/ donjd2

MORE ABOUT: roadkill, wildlife
  • http://www.applebox.ie gerard

    . Do you know if any organisation is looking into Sat-Nav technology that could detect Animals on the road in front of cars. I think this would be a better way forward to prevent road kill as soon every car will have Sat-Nav as standard. If for example Sat-Nav’s had the technology for detecting Animals or People on the road ahead it could dramatically reduce Road Kill and pedestrian death. Also if for example you lived in an area of the country where there was a high percentage of car accidents involving animals, you would most likely invest in this type of technology, if you knew it could save your life or the animals life.




Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar