Evaluation of Deer Warning Reflectors in Virginia

Report No: 03-TAR6

Published in 2003

About the report:

A deer warning reflector consists of a red, double-sided reflector mounted on posts, similar to those used for roadside delineators along roadways. As vehicles approach and move through the road section, it is purported that the reflector reflects the beam from vehicular headlights across the highway in a moving pattern of low-intensity red light beams, which in turn gets deer's attention and deters them from entering the roadway. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the deer warning reflector system. The measure of effectiveness was the change in deer-vehicle collisions on highway segments with and without the reflectors. The number of deer carcasses picked up by crews of the Virginia Department of Transportation was the measure used for deer-vehicle collisions. The level of maintenance activity needed to keep the marking system effective was also monitored. Deer warning reflectors were installed at 10 sites in Virginia. Each reflector site had a control site that was typically adjacent to the reflector site. The sites were monitored for 6 to 28 months. There was no evidence to suggest that the deer warning reflectors were consistently effective across most sites based on trend and statistical analyses. An experimental section with deer warning reflectors on one side of the road yielded results similar to those for the standard arrangement with reflectors on both sides of the road and control sections. In order for the benefits of the reflectors to exceed their installation and maintenance costs, the reflectors would have to prevent at least 1.14 deer-vehicle collisions per mile per year.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: December 3, 2023

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