Testing an Integrated PDA-GPS System to Collect Standardized Animal Carcass Removal Data on Virginia Roadways

Report No: 08-CR10

Published in 2008

About the report:

Animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs) have a growing impact in the United States in terms of safety, economic loss, and species conservation. According to estimates from insurance claims, Virginia has consistently ranked as one of the top seven states for deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) since 2002. Of the state's estimated 43,500 to 47,700 DVCs in 2006, less than 14% were reported to the police and stored in the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) accident database. Virginia has no standardized method of sufficiently tracking AVC occurrences and locations, creating difficulty in researching and implementing mitigation efforts to reduce accidents. Valuable AVC data can be obtained from documenting the instances and locations of animal carcasses from the roadway, but most transportation organizations do not systematically record these removals. This project entailed testing a personal data assistant (PDA) enabled with a global positioning system (GPS) receiver for the collection and analyses of animal carcass removals (CRs) from the roadway. Using GPS-enabled PDAs and software developed by Western Transportation Institute, maintenance personnel from a VDOT area headquarters in Rockbridge County collected 8 months of spatially accurate CR data. Rockbridge County DVC estimates derived from the CR data collected for this study were more than 9 times greater than the number of AVCs reported in police records. These spatial data can be easily used for density analyses to determine "hotspots" of AVCs. Implementing mitigation at these areas can ultimately lead to fewer AVCs and associated reductions of human deaths, injuries, and financial losses; improved traffic operations; a reduction in maintenance costs related to carcass removal and disposal; and wildlife conservation. VDOT is currently undergoing changes to its method of documenting roadway maintenance activities, including the deployment of GPS-enabled PDAs to all area headquarters. These PDAs provide a mechanism for collecting spatially accurate and standardized CR data, but collecting and reporting CRs are currently not requirements. Given the PDA's ease of use and the benefits these data would provide, the study recommends that this procedure be integrated into regular practice by VDOT area headquarters. As VDOT is receiving added regulatory pressure to implement measures to reduce AVCs, improving CR data collection using the technology described in this report can help provide an objective method for deciding whether and where mitigation is needed.

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: November 24, 2023

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