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Headlight Invention Reduces Deer-Car Crashes

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

Government researchers have come up with what they say is a solution to the “deer in the headlights” phenomenon which results in dangerous and sometimes deadly traffic accidents

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program have developed a new vehicle lighting system to prevent deer-vehicle collisions during low-light conditions.

Through a series of experiments with free-roaming white-tailed deer, researchers found that by using a rear-facing light-emitting diode light bar which illuminates a larger portion of the vehicle’s front surface than standard headlights alone, resulted in fewer dangerous deer-vehicle collisions.

The likelihood of dangerous interactions with deer decreased from 35% to only 10% when using the rear-facing light bar plus headlights versus just headlights alone.

The “freezing” behavior by deer was reduced when the light bar was used.

“This new lighting system takes advantage of a deer’s predator avoidance behavior” states lead author and former NWRC researcher Dr. Travis DeVault. “We predicted that light reflected from the front surface of the vehicle would provide a more reliable looming image to deer, thus encouraging the deer to move out of the path of the approaching vehicle.”

When an object “looms,” it becomes increasingly larger to the deer, helping the animal realize that an object is an approaching object versus one that is stationary.

In the United States and Canada, deer cause most animal-related injurious and deadly road collisions.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 18,309 deer-vehicle crashes were reported statewide in 2018. Three deaths and 980 injuries were caused by crashes.

The technology can be incorporated as an after-market device, like a brush guard or bumper, or can be embedded in the vehicle as part of the manufacturing process.

The USDA is currently seeking a licensing partner to build and market the technology.

Shared from WFMJ.