The DVCIR Center funded three research projects. These projects all started in late 2009. An abstract, executive summary, and the full reports are below.
Methods to Identify and Prioritize Deer-Vehicle Crash Locations
This project was funded by the Deer-Vehicle Crash Information and Research Center (DVICR) Center Pooled Fund. The project focused on the methods used to identify, predict, and/or prioritize the location of deer-vehicle crash “hot spots” (i.e., locations where DVCs are more intensely clustered or occur more than expected). The three objectives included were:: 1) the investigation of existing crash analysis approaches, capabilities, and/or DVC-related databases, along with the best practices; 2) a summary of the different approaches and tools that might be used to specifically evaluate DVC “hot spots” and data; and, 3) the consideration of several selection/prioritization methodologies at case study locations. These objectives were accomplished through the completion of a literature review, a survey of current practices, and an evaluation and analysis of “hot spot” location and prioritization methods and tools available. The researchers concluded that the literature related to DVCs from an ecological point-of-view was generally available, but the documentation of the examination of DVCs from a safety point-of-view were more difficult to find. In addition, documentation related to the use of predictive approaches to identify DVC “hot spots” are even more sparse. The researchers also concluded that methodologies and tools to identify DVC “hot spots” are widely available. The appropriate method or approach to use in this effort, it was concluded, depends on the goals of the analysis, study area, and the definition of “hot spot”. The researchers recommended the application and comparison of the results from multiple methods/approaches. The results from the survey of twenty-four states indicated that sixteen did some type of DVC “hot spot” analysis, some states used carcass data in addition to reported DVC data, state-wide wildlife and habitat linkage maps were incorporated in some cases, and that none of the states had considered whether their “hot spot” analysis approaches had led to countermeasures that reduced DVCs. It was also shown that the use of linkage mapping or a formal analysis approach appeared to be related to those states that indicated they explicitly considered DVCs in their roadway project planning and design. The researchers recommended that DVCs be more widely incorporated into state roadway planning and design.
Deer-Vehicle Crash, Ecological, and Economic Impacts of Reduced Roadside Mowing
This project was funded by the Deer-Vehicle Crash Information and Research Center (DVICR) Center Pooled Fund. The goals of this project were to summarize the potential safety, ecological, and economic impacts of reduced roadside mowing on DVCs; describe roadside management policies in the United State; and, attempt to quantify potential DVC impacts of reduced mowing. Three tasks were completed as part of this project. These tasks included the completion of a literature review and summary, and current and “best” practices survey, and the comparison of DVC rates with “standard” and reduced roadside mowing approaches. A review of the literatures led the researchers to conclude that the majority of existing roadside vegetation best management practices are related to safety, drainage, the control of noxious and nuisance weeds, and to promote desirable natural growth. From a safety point, maintaining sight distance (along the roadside and to signs) appears to be one of the main reasons for roadside mowing. However, the relationship between deer and roadside vegetation is rarely mentioned in roadside mowing documentation. If this subject is noted, it focuses on the selection of vegetation that is less attractive to deer. The results of the survey showed that 21 of the 24 responding state Departments of Transportation had reduced their roadside mowing in all or part of their state. About two-thirds of these had introduced these reductions between 2008 and 2010. The primary reason for the reduced approach was economics or cost, but a secondary reason was ecological (e.g., concern for ground nesting birds). The final task completed by the project team included a comparison of DVCs per year along a total of ten roadway segments in two states. The researchers considered three years of data before and after the change in roadside mowing. The changes in DVCs per year were inconsistent and not generally statistically significant. The relationship examined between the number of DVCs per year and the mowing regime was also not found to be statistically significant. The researchers concluded that the results from this analysis should be used with caution due to the small sample sizes evaluated.
Roadkill Observation Collection System (ROCS) Support Project
The Roadkill Observation Collection System (ROCS) Phase III Development project was partially funded by the Deer-Vehicle Crash Information and Research Center (DVICR) Center Pooled Fund. The project focused on the development of a portable, rugged and user friendly system to help facilitate the collection and interpretation of animal-vehicle crash data. The tasks in the project included the development of both the hardware and software systems for the collection of large animal-vehicle collision data. The ROCS project consisted of three phases. The first phase focused on the hardware (e.g., the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and Global Positioning System (GPS)) used for the data collection. The second phase improved the hardware and also developed mainframe support for easy data downloads. The third phase, supported by the DVCIR Center Pooled Fund, developed software for desktop support and a system for automatic uploads of data to a central server and local retention of data. The data interface with the end user was also improved. The ROCS was tested with Department of Transportation maintenance personnel within Iowa and New York. An evaluation of the spatially accurate data collected with ROCS showed that it could be used to find deer-vehicle crash “hot spots”, complete cost-benefit for consideration of mitigation, and apply other types of analyses. It was concluded that the completion of Phase III has shown that ROCS can be successfully used in the field and applied on a more widespread basis.