While it can be challenging in certain situations, there are many ways drivers can avoid collisions with deer and other wildlife.
Driver education helps prevent accidents.
A wealth of information is available to citizens wishing to learn more about ways to prevent DVA.
Deer often travel in groups. When you see one, you will likely encounter others. Deer are more active at dawn and dusk. Mowing road sides helps keep deer from browsing along roads and makes them visible to drivers as they approach a road. Using road salt alternatives helps deter deer from roadways in winter. Signage alerts drivers to known deer crossings.
The City has maps of location and time of day of accidents (see below – images sourced from an information packet provided by the City of Iowa City). The majority of accidents are on Highway 218 and Interstate 80, the high speed roadways that surround the city.
Reflectors & Flashers
Roadside reflectors and flashers have been proven effective to reduce and even eliminate deer-vehicle accidents.
Reflectors placed on Highway 100 in Cedar Rapids, after that road bisected deer sleeping and eating areas, reduced deer/vehicle accidents by 100%.
Iowa City data:
Reflectors were installed along a quarter-mile section of Dubuque Street in Iowa City at a cost of $4,406 for reflectors (including extras for replacement needs), materials, installation labor, pruning labor, and equipment rental. In an area with a high deer kill rate, the reflectors completely eliminated deer-vehicle collisions during the first two months after installation. According to her December 5, 1994 memo, Lisa C. Goodman, Director of Animal Control for the Iowa City Police Department, found the reflectors are “worth the money, when public safety, public relations, animal safety and the costs incurred by accidents, is taken into consideration.”
G. I. Hoilien of Harpers Ferry wrote to Strieter Corporation, distributor of the Swareflex Reflectors called Strieter-Lite, to report, “After thirty years as an Iowa Conservation Officer (Game Warden) in the business of protecting wildlife, I’ve seen something ‘Really Work’!” He explained that he had documented about fifty deer kills, mostly at night, each year on Highway 76 in the three years before the installation of Swareflex Reflectors. Hoilien wrote, “After 7 years only 7 deer have been reportedly killed in this area at night, which makes a saving of 350-400 deer car accidents.”
The conservation officer added personal testimony on the effect reflectors have on deer and other wildlife. He explained:
- “On patrol one night, I just entered the reflected area and in my lights observed several deer running hard towards the highway. When they neared the reflectors, it was as if they had hit a fence. They skidded to a stop, turned and ran back the way they had come. On other occasions, I’ve observed fox and coyote with the same reaction.”
An estimated ½ of the states and many other countries have built wildlife crossings to keep deer and other animals off highways. Crossings go under or over existing roadways and have proven effective. Some states with crossings have plans to build more. Learn more about wildlife crossings by checking the links under this heading on our Resources page.