Wildlife-Friendly Crossing Areas Dramatically Reduce Animal-Vehicle Collisions

20 March 2015
 Categories: , Articles

Highway signs alert drivers to stretches where wildlife commonly crosses the road, but those signs don't stop large numbers of vehicle-wildlife collisions from occurring every year. A solution that is proving to be highly effective involves constructing overpasses or underpasses for wildlife. Although there are expenses involved, the success of these crossings can substantially reduce the staggering costs of wildlife-related accidents.

About Wildlife Bypasses

Wildlife overpasses can be built over roads similar to the way pedestrian walkways are constructed. For underpasses, the engineers may design an elevated road in a particular spot or plan a tunnel under the road. These constructs are built to resemble the natural environment as much as possible, which encourages the animals to use them. Fences are constructed along the roads in the area to deter wildlife from going onto the pavement. 

Using insurance company and government data, researchers attempt to find the best locations for the crossings to prevent large numbers of collisions. These structures have been found to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions up to 80 or 90 percent in the areas where they are located.

Of course, that's not only good for people, it's highly beneficial for the animals as well. In addition to preventing animal injuries and death, the crossings rejoin fragmented habitats in which certain species don't cross roads. That's better for the species gene pool. 

Costs of Accidents With Wildlife

Taxpayers may gripe about the cost of constructing these bypasses. However, State Farm Insurance says around 1.23 million deer-related accidents during a one-year time frame in 2011 and 2012 resulted in some $4 billion in auto damage. This is a projected figure based on claims data and government statistics; not all wildlife-vehicle accidents are reported to insurance companies or to law enforcement.

That figure doesn't even address collisions with other kinds of wildlife, including larger animals such as elk, moose and bears. Data from the American Science Institute show about 2 million wildlife-related accidents annually, costing more than $8 billion for towing, vehicle repair and removing the dead animals. 

Added to these amounts are the expenses of medical bills and the lingering issues of severe injury, as well as tangible and intangible costs of the fatalities that sometimes occur in these accidents.

Avoiding Collisions With Wildlife

Wildlife bypasses are increasingly prevalent, but they still are a foreign concept to many citizens. You might consider becoming an advocate for their construction if you like the idea. Until the overpasses and underpasses become more routine throughout the country, continue doing what you can to avoid collisions with wildlife, including: 

  • slowing down when highway signs alert you to the presence of wildlife
  • slowing down further if you see one animal; wild animals usually don't travel alone
  • being particularly alert for deer at dawn and dusk
  • being especially cautious during October, November and December, since deer are on the move during mating and migrating season
  • using your high beams to make wildlife alongside the road more visible at night

Managing the Costs of a Wildlife-Vehicle Collision

You might consider adding comprehensive coverage to your automotive insurance if you don't already have it. That pays for damage resulting from a collision with an animal. The type of insurance known as collision coverage only pays for damage in an accident with another vehicle or from hitting an inanimate object, such as a utility pole. 

If you are currently in the unpleasant situation of having to deal with auto damage from a wildlife-related accident, get quotes from reputable auto body shops in your town or bring your vehicle to a garage like Unlimited Collision you trust. Perhaps in the future, these incidents will become rare events due to animal-friendly crossing areas.