Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration FHWA Home
Research Home
Report
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-08-034
Date: August 2008

Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Reduction Study: Report To Congress

PDF Version (2.92 MB)

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®

Table of Contents

 

FOREWORD

America's highways allow people and products to travel to every corner of our nation. Along the way, these roads cut across the habitat of many native wildlife species. When these paths cross, collisions occur, and in greater numbers than most people realize. This presents a real danger to human safety as well as wildlife survival. State and local transportation agencies are looking for ways to find a balance among travel needs, human safety, and conserving wildlife.

This national study details the causes and impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and identifies potential solutions to this growing safety problem. This Report to Congress focuses on tools, methods, and other measures that reduce the number of collisions between vehicles and large wildlife, such as deer, because these accidents present the greatest safety danger to travelers and cause the most damage.

Michael F. Trentacoste

Director, Office of Safety

Research and Development

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Copyright Notice

This document was funded in whole under U.S. Government contract DTFH61-05-D- 00018-T-06-001. Some photographs in this document are copyrighted photographs not owned by the U.S. Government. The Contractor grants to the U.S Government, and others acting on its behalf, a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license in such copyrighted data to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly by or on behalf of the Government. All other rights are reserved by the copyright owner(s) and reprint permissions must be requested from those copyright owners.

Contact details of copyright holders:

Tony Clevenger

138 Birch Ave.

Canmore, Alberta T1W 2G7

Canada

E-mail: apclevenger@gmail.com

Brian L. Cypher

c/o California State University

Stanislaus, Endangered Species Recovery Program

E-mail: bcypher@esrp.csustan.edu

Adam Ford

c/o Banff Wildlife Crossings Project

Western Transportation Institute-MSU Bozeman

Banff National Park

PO Box 900

Banff, AB T1L 1K2

Canada

Phone: 403-760-1371

E-mail: atford@gmail.com

Marcel Huijser

636 Stoddard St.

Missoula, MT 59802

USA

Phone: 406-543-5926

E-mail: marcel_p_huijser@yahoo.com

Bruce F. Leeson

10011 5th St. S.E.

Calgary, Alberta, T2J 1L4

Canada

Phone: 403-271-7235 (desk)

Phone: 403-869-8189 (cell)

E-mail: bfleeson@shaw.ca

Bethanie Walder

636 Stoddard St.

Missoula, MT 59802

USA

Phone: 406-543-5926

E-mail: c/o wildlandscpr@wildlandscpr.org

Chuck Walters

c/o Environmental Division

Mississippi Department of Transportation

PO Box 551

Hattiesburg, MS 39403

USA

E-mail: cwalters@mdot.state.ms.us

TECHNICAL REPORT DOCUMENTATION PAGE

1. Report No.

FHWA-HRT-08-034

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Reduction Study: Report to Congress

5. Report Date

August 2008

6. Performing Organization Code:

7. Author(s)

M.P. Huijser, P. McGowen, J. Fuller, A. Hardy, A. Kociolek, A.P. Clevenger, D. Smith and R. Ament

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

10. Work Unit No.

Western Transportation Institute
Montana State University
P.O. Box 174250
Bozeman, MT 59717

Under contract to:
The Louis Berger Group, Inc.
412 Mount Kemble Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07962

11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-05-D-00018

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety Research and Development
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

Sponsoring groups were the Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety Research and Development (C. Tan, A. Zineddin, and H. Valadez), the Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty (Water and Ecosystems Team) (D. Durbin, M. Gray, and P. Garrett), and the Federal Highway Administration Western Federal Lands Highway Division (B. Allen). Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR): Dennis Durbin. Contracting Officer Technical Manager (COTM): Abdul Zineddin.

16. Abstract

Under the SAFETEA-LU Congressional Bill, the Secretary of Transportation was directed to conduct a national wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) reduction study. The study was to advance the understanding of the causes and impacts of WVCs and identify solutions to this growing safety problem.

This report contains the findings of this study, beginning with estimates on the current magnitude and trend for WVCs in the United States. Based on several national datasets, the study found that there are between one and two million WVCs annually in the United States and that the number is increasing. Estimates are provided for the costs associated with WVCs, and the impact of direct road mortality is described for 21 federally listed threatened and endangered species. The core of the report is an in-depth review of over 34 WVC mitigation methods assembled from information obtained from hundreds of literature sources (both published and "gray" literature). Each mitigation measure is described in detail, and information including case studies, benefits, costs, undesirable effects, and design guidelines is provided. The report also covers planning and design considerations and provides cost-benefit analyses for the mitigation methods that had sufficient data available to support these analyses. A working group of seven national experts provided input and evaluated the effectiveness of the mitigation methods, categorizing them as either recommended for implementation, recommended for future research, or not recommended for future research or implementation. A summary of their evaluation is included in this report. Recommendations for implementation of effective measures and for further investigation of promising mitigation measures are provided.

17. Key Words

animal-vehicle collisions, deer-vehicle collisions, endangered and threatened species, wildlife fencing, wildlife crossing structures, wildlife overpasses, wildlife underpasses, wildlife-vehicle collisions

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classif. (of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classif. (of this page)

Unclassified

21. No. of Pages

251

22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized


SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Causes and Characteristics of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

Chapter 3. Economic Impacts of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

Chapter 4. Impacts to wildlife

Chapter 5. Mitigation Methods that Attempt to Influence Driver Behavior

Chapter 6. Mitigation Methods that Seek to Influence Animal Behavior

Chapter 7. Mitigation Methods that Seek to Reduce Wildlife Population Size

Chapter 8. Mitigation Methods that Seek to Physically separate Animals from the Roadway

Chapter 9. Planning and Design Considerations

Chapter 10. Evaluation of mitigation Methods by Technical Working Group

Chapter 11. Gaps in Current Knowledge

Chapter 12. Cost-Benefit Analyses of Deer Collision Reduction Measures

Chapter 13. Conclusion

Appendix: Experts Consulted for ENDangered Species Act List

Acknowledgements

References

List of Figures

  1. Figure ES1. Photo. A collision with a white-tailed deer can result in extensive property damage
  2. Figure ES2. Photo. Standard deer warning sign along Montana Highway 83
  3. Figure ES3. Photo. Seasonal deer migration sign in Utah
  4. Figure ES4. Photo. Wildlife warning and advisory speed limit reduction signs triggered by an animal detection system in ‘t Harde, The Netherlands
  5. Figure ES5. Graph. Human injury from AVCs (primarily deer)
  6. Figure ES6. Graph. Animal species involved in fatal (to human) collisions, Maine
  7. Figure ES7. Graph. Total vehicle crashes
  8. Figure ES8. Graph. Total AVCs (including wildlife and domestic animals)
  9. Figure ES9. Photo. A mule deer is hit by a vehicle in Big Bend National Park, TX
  10. Figure ES10. Photo. Hawaiian goose warning sign
  11. Figure ES11. Photo. Desert tortoise
  12. Figure ES12. Photo. San Joaquin kit fox
  13. Figure ES13. Photo. Wildlife fencing along Interstate 90 near Bozeman, MT
  14. Figure ES14. Photo. Wildlife underpass in southern Florida that allows for ecosystem process (hydrology) as well as wildlife use, including the Florida panther
  15. Figure ES15. Photo. Large culvert with vegetative cover and fencing on Highway 1 in Canada
  16. Figure ES16. Photo. Long bridge on Arizona Highway 260 constructed in such a way as to minimize the impact to soil and vegetation
  17. Figure ES17. Photo. Permanently flashing Florida black bear warning signs in the Ocala National Forest, FL
  18. Figure ES18. Photo. Roadkill observation collection system (ROCS), a GPS-enabled PDA for animal carcass data collection
  19. Figure ES19. Photo. Animal detection system along U.S. Highway 191 in Yellowstone National Park, MT
  20. Figure ES20. Photo. Animal detection test-bed used to test the reliability of multiple animal detection systems, Lewistown, MT

 

  1. Figure 1. Graph. Annual WVCs estimated by insurance industry
  2. Figure 2. Graph. Total vehicle crashes
  3. Figure 3. Graph. Total AVCs (including wildlife and domestic animals)
  4. Figure 4. Graph. Annual crash rate for AVCs (GES and VMT data)
  5. Figure 5. Graph. Annual distribution of AVCs
  6. Figure 6. Graph. Annual distribution for other/domestic animal-vehicle collisions in CA, WA, IL, ME, and UT (HSIS data)
  7. Figure 7. Graph. Annual distributions for moose and bear collisions in Maine (HSIS data)
  8. Figure 8. Graph. Time-of-day distribution
  9. Figure 9. Graph. Severity distribution for AVCs (GES data)
  10. Figure 10. Graph. Severity distribution for all crashes (GES data)
  11. Figure 11. Graph. Severity distribution of moose-vehicle collisions in Maine (HSIS data)
  12. Figure 12. Graph. AVCs by number of lanes (GES data)
  13. Figure 13. Graph. Theoretical relationship between traffic volume, successful wildlife crossings, and road mortality (adapted from Seiler)
  14. Figure 14. Graph. Crashes by ADT (HSIS data)
  15. Figure 15. Graph. Distribution by posted speed limit (GES data)
  16. Figure 16. Graph. Distribution of fatal crashes by posted speed limit (FARS data)
  17. Figure 17. Graph. Animal species involved in collisions in California (HSIS data)
  18. Figure 18. Graph. Animal species involved in collisions in Maine (HSIS data)
  19. Figure 19. Graph. Animal species involved with collisions in Washington (HSIS data)
  20. Figure 20. Graph. Fatal AVCs by collision type (FARS data)
  21. Figure 21. Graph. Age distribution for all crashes and AVCs (HSIS data)
  22. Figure 22. Photo. Desert tortoise
  23. Figure 23. Photo. Fences lead gopher tortoises towards a culvert along Highway 63 in Green County, south of Leakesville, MS
  24. Figure 24. Photo. A section of the Mobile Bay Causeway that has relatively many road-killed Alabama red-bellied turtles
  25. Figure 25. Photo. Road-killed Alabama red-bellied turtle
  26. Figure 26. Photo. "Do Not Feed Nene" sign
  27. Figure 27. Photo. Hawaiian goose (nene) warning sign
  28. Figure 28. Photo. Example of bumper sticker for a driver awareness campaign to reduce WVCs in Jasper National Park, Canada
  29. Figure 29. Photo. Roadside billboard along highway in Jasper National Park, Canada
  30. Figure 30. Photo. Poster created by NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center as part of its RoadKill Prevention Program
  31. Figure 31. Photo. Poster produced by the Maine Department of Transportation
  32. Figure 32. Graph. Driver age distribution for all crashes and AVCs (HSIS data)
  33. Figure 33. Flow chart. Warning signs and driver response
  34. Figure 34. Photo. Standard deer warning sign along Montana Highway 83
  35. Figure 35. Photo. Large enhanced warning sign for bighorn sheep along State Highway 75 in Idaho
  36. Figure 36. Photo. Large enhanced elk warning sign along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park, Canada
  37. Figure 37. Photo. Seasonal deer migration sign in Utah
  38. Figure 38. Photo. Animal detection system along Highway 191 in Yellowstone National Park, MT
  39. Figure 39. Photo. Advisory speed sign in The Netherlands located at a gap in exclusionary wildlife fencing
  40. Figure 40. Graph. Roadkill by posted speed limit in Yellowstone
  41. Figure 41. Photo. Speed bumps used to reduce WVCs in Australia
  42. Figure 42. Photo. Wildlife fence along Interstate 90 near Bozeman, MT
  43. Figure 43. Photo. Gap in a wildlife fence accompanied by wildlife warning signs and advisory speed limit reduction, The Netherlands
  44. Figure 44. Photo. Gap in a wildlife fence combined with an animal detection system, wildlife warning signs, and advisory speed limit reduction, The Netherlands
  45. Figure 45. Photo. Wildlife underpass along U.S. Highway 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, MT
  46. Figure 46. Photo. Wildlife overpass in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  47. Figure 47. Photo. Underpass in southern Florida that allows for ecosystem processes (hydrology) as well as wildlife use, including the Florida panther
  48. Figure 48. Photo. Jump-out or escape ramp along U.S. Highway 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, MT
  49. Figure 49. Photo. One-way elk gate in British Columbia, Canada
  50. Figure 50. Photo. One-way Eurasian badger gate, The Netherlands
  51. Figure 51. Photo. The boulder field at the fence end at Dead Man's Flats along the Trans-Canada Highway east of Canmore, Alberta, Canada
  52. Figure 52. Photo. Wildlife guard along U.S. Highway 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, MT
  53. Figure 53. Photo. Angled opening in fence allowing access for people along U.S. Highway 93, MT
  54. Figure 54. Photo. Swing gate in fence (spring loaded) allowing access for people, along the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  55. Figure 55. Photo. Large boulders placed in the right of way as a barrier to elk and deer along State Route 260 in Arizona
  56. Figure 56. Photo. Large boulders placed in the right of way as a barrier to elk and deer with a view of State Route 260 (under construction) in Arizona
  57. Figure 57. Photo. Long bridge on Arizona State Route 260 constructed in such a way as to minimize the impact to soil and vegetation
  58. Figure 58. Photo. Long bridges do not have to be excessively large to provide ample space for wildlife crossings.
  59. Figure 59. Photo. Road removal in progress in Belgium (note that a path for pedestrians and bicyclists remains in place.)
  60. Figure 60. Graph. Annual balance and collision reduction for the different mitigation measures

List of Tables

  1. Table 1. Summary of HSIS data characteristics from different states
  2. Table 2. Five-year crash totals for HSIS states
  3. Table 3. Total annual magnitude of WVCs from various sources
  4. Table 4. Estimated costs for property damage, human injuries, and human fatalities for the average AVC
  5. Table 5. Costs for types of human injuries for the average deer-, elk-, and moose-vehicle collision
  6. Table 6. Summary of estimated costs of a WVC for a deer, elk, and moose
  7. Table 7. Threatened and endangered species in the United States for which direct road mortality is among the major threats to the survival probability of the species
  8. Table 8. Collisions with large animals before and after detection system installation in Switzerland
  9. Table 9. Technical working group members
  10. Table 10. Technical working group rankings
  11. Table 11. Technical working group recommendations
  12. Table 12. Summary cost-benefit of mitigation measures for five DVCs per km per yr

List of Abbreviations and Symbols

Abbreviations for Collisions with Animals

AVC Animal-vehicle collisions. Collisions with wild and domestic animals in cases where domestic animals could not be separated from the dataset.
WVC Wildlife-vehicle collisions. Collisions with all species of wild animals.
DVC Deer-vehicle collisions. WVCs that involve only deer. A separate term is used for deer and no other specific type of animal because deer account for a majority of WVCs when data are available. When information is specific to one type of animal other than deer, no abbreviation is used (e.g., moose-vehicle collision).

Abbreviations

ADT Average daily traffic, is defined as the total volume during a given time period (in days), greater than 1 day and less than 1 year, divided by the number of days in that time period.(1) In this report the time period is always 1 year.
AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  Arizona Department of Transportation
BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation
CaMg Chemical formula for calcium magnesium acetate, a common alternative to road salt for deicing.
CSD/CSS Context-sensitive design/context-sensitive solutions, is a planning and/or design strategy that attempts to consider scenic, aesthetic, historic, environmental, and community values.
DOT see State DOT
DMS Dynamic message signs, also referred to as variable message signs
FARS Fatal Accident Reporting System, is a national dataset that includes all crashes with a human fatality.
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
GES General Estimates System, is a dataset that enables estimates of national crash numbers based on a national sample.
GIS Geographic Information Systems, which relates to spatial data standards and in some cases, sets of spatial data.
GPS Global Positioning System
HSIS Highway Safety Information System, is a dataset that includes all reported crashes from Washington, California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Utah.
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
km/h Kilometers per hour
LED Light-emitting diode, a technology used for, among other things, lighted signs and flashers.
MNDOT Minnesota Department of Transportation
mi/h Miles per hour
MUTCD Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which provides national guidance and standards for, among other things, warning signs and signals.
NaCl Chemical formula for sodium chloride (salt), a common deicing chemical
NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program
NPS National Park Service
NYSDOT New York State Department of Transportation
ROW Right of way, refers to the area owned by the transportation agency, including the roadside.
SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, which is the primary congressional bill for surface transportation programs, signed by President George W. Bush in August 2005.
State DOT State department of transportation in general (i.e., not a specific state)
USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation
USFWS U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
VMT Vehicle miles traveled

Symbols

$ Followed by a numerical value refers to dollar value. Unless otherwise specified, reported values are in U.S. dollars.
Can$ Followed by a numerical value refer to Canadian dollars.
Followed by a numerical value refers to Euros.

Table of Contents | Next

ResearchFHWA
FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration