Department partnering with WTI to investigate wildlife-detection system
The Idaho Transportation Department’s Research Program has initiated a project to evaluate the performance of an innovative wildlife-detection system that may bring improved safety to area highways by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, personal injury and property damage. The project is the result of District 1’s request, and is a partnership between ITD and the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) of Montana State University.
Here are a couple of videos, from Sloan Security, showing thermal images of deer crossing the road near vehicles. The first video shows a close call as the animals cross near a car: https://youtu.be/R4ZWQdMM7f0.
The second video shows the deer scared from near the roadway by a semi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pob-G1u3TY
The project uses lightweight and durable commercial thermal imagery, similar to that employed in military applications in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Preliminary studies indicate that vehicle/animal collisions could be reduced by at least one third.
“Wildlife-vehicle collisions are a costly safety issue for Idaho travelers,” said ITD Research Program Manager Ned Parrish. “Injuries and the loss of life — human or wild animal — are broad social and environmental concerns.”
Those collisions account for almost $8.4 billion nationwide each year, and nearly $20 million last year in Idaho. These costs include vehicle-repair costs, human injuries and fatalities, towing, accident attendance and investigation, monetary value to hunters of the animal killed in the collision, and the cost of disposal of the animal carcass.
If the system proves successful, it could be implemented in a variety of locations around the state. Parrish noted that “the system has the potential to be moved from one location to another as wildlife movement patterns change. This would give districts greater flexibility and be more cost-effective as compared to fencing and wildlife crossing structures".
D1 staff responsible for day-to-day management and support of the project are Michael Hartz, senior environmental planner, and George Shutes, Bonners Ferry maintenance foreman. Other staff serving on the project Technical Advisory Committee include: Tim Cramer, senior environmental planner from District 6, Brad Wolfinger, analyst in the Environmental Section, and Parrish. Brent Inghram and Lance Johnson from FHWA’s Idaho Division Office are also involved in the project.