Effectiveness of Highway Crosswalk Structures at Reducing Deer-Vehicle Collisions

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Wildlife Society Bulletin



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We evaluated the effectiveness of a newly designed system of highway crosswalks for reducing vehicle collisions with mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) along a 2-lane and divided 4-lane highway in northeastern Utah. The crosswalk system forced deer to cross at specific, well-marked areas, where motorists could anticipate them along the highways. Based on expected kill levels, mortality declined 42.3% and 36.8% along the 4-lane and 2-lane highway, respectively. We were unable to demonstrate statistically that observed mortality reductions were a result of the crosswalk system. Reduced deer use of the highway right-of-way (ROW) and observations of deer successfully crossing within crosswalk boundaries indicated that some aspects of the design may have contributed to reduced deer mortality. The crosswalk system did not appear to disrupt seasonal deer movements to and from adjacent winter range. Lack of motorist response to crosswalk warning signs, the tendency for foraging deer to wander outside crosswalk boundaries, and the ineffectiveness of 1-way ROW escape gates contributed to most treatment area mortalities. We offer design modifications that address these shortcomings, and may increase the utility of the approach.

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