VDOT Getting Creative to Cut Down on Deer-Related Crashes

Sep 13, 2020

Virginia’s Department of Transportation is gearing up for deer season. Next month, the number of crashes involving deer will begin to rise steadily – peaking in November. Here in Virginia, your odds of hitting a deer are one in 99, but experts hope for big improvements.

Each year in this country, there are a million accidents involving deer. About 200 people lose their lives, 10,000 are injured and those accidents cause a billion dollars in damage to cars.

That’s why a team at VDOT has come up with a way to guide deer and other wildlife to use paths under highways.

“So what we did was add a mile of eight foot tall wildlife fencing. We put it along the road and then leading up to the openings of the underpasses, so that the fencing would function both to keep the wildlife off of the road and also to funnel the animals towards the underpass.”

Research scientist Bridget Donaldson and her colleagues tested that approach on this section of I-64 at Afton Mountain.

Credit AP Photo / Keith Srakocic

“This project was incredibly successful and also very cost effective. We had a 92% reduction in deer-vehicle collisions and a huge increase in the use of those structures by deer, black bear, coyotes, bobcats – most mammals that live in this area.”

Infrared cameras captured the animals using underpasses, and VDOT is now working on guidelines for getting fencing in place at other key spots where deer are known to cross.