Researchers are pooling
federal resources to look at new technology that could give drivers a heads
up when large animals such as deer and elk are crossing the roadway. Individual
drivers usually pay at least $2,000 in vehicle repair every time they hit
At test sites in Indiana
and Montana, warning signs are being installed in areas with large animal
migrations in hopes of preventing animal/vehicle collisions. On the back of
each sign is a microwave radar unit that emits a beam for detecting the movement
of large animals. When an animal breaks the beam, flashing lights on the signs
The broken-beam technology
is similar to systems used for security at military installations and prisons.
"It's basically a new application for the same technology that tells
you if someone is approaching the prison all," Kevin Haas, a research
engineer in the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Planning and
Research Section, said in a released statement. "It can tell whether
an animal is approaching or leaving the highway."
In addition, researchers
will study human behavior to see how drivers react. They will monitor vehicle
speed and other driver behaviors to see if the flashing lights make a difference
According to ODOT, more
than 200 drivers are killed and thousands more are injured in animal-vehicle
collisions in the United States each year.