With tens of thousands of life-threatening vehicle collisions with deer each year in Ontario alone, locals are looking to high-tech solutions to save both man and beast!
In eastern Canada, car crashes involving moose, deer, elk and the occasional reindeer are uncommon to the point where there have been 479 injuries, and three lives lost on the roadways of Ontario in 2010. The latest big idea that the highway ministry is currently testing out an innovative way to let motorists know that large animals are currently on the road involves repurposed airport radar technology.
The radar’s software scans the highway for objects, and then checks the size and speed of each one. When the system picks up a lumbering elk or moose, warning lights blink above a classic yellow, diamond shaped “Watch out for deer” icon sign with the words “INCREASED RISK WHEN FLASHING” underneath. The system is currently being tested on the well-traveled Highway 138, which leads from Ottawa to Montreal.
This idea is much more refined than the ministry’s 2009 attempt, which involved placing infrared sensors along the roads. While deer and caribou would trip the warning lights if they stepped into the invisible beam, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and other small wildlife could turn on the lights just as easily. While the new radar based program does an excellent job of tipping off drivers to potential moose in the road, smaller critters are now on their own.
This is a fantastic idea, if expensive ($287,000 was spent on the new Highway 138 system), but if it works and becomes widely accepted, this program would have the potential to save the lives of countless Canadian deer and humans alike. Only time will tell before we know just how effective the roadside radar is, but I’m hoping that it’s a winner!