Ensure public familiarity with animal detection systems by displaying signs so that they are easily understood and by providing basic system information prior to deployment.
Montana and Pennsylvania’s experience with deploying animal detection systems.
Thompsontown,Pennsylvania,United States; Yellowstone National Park,Montana,United States
To increase the public’s familiarity with animal detection systems informational campaigns should be conducted prior to deployment. For people to become familiar with animal detection systems on a wider scale, agencies should coordinate with one another to develop display standards. Last, so drivers stay cautious and alert when message boards are blank, continual caution messages should be displayed at points where the potential for animal crossings is frequent.
- Inform local media outlets prior to and during initial system deployment. The media are concerned with the number of and increase in animal-vehicle collisions for various reasons: human safety, animal welfare, habitat connectivity, and population viability, especially for large mammal species. Since animal detection systems are located along roads, they are highly visible to the public, including journalists. It is recommended to send out a press release and a project fact sheet just before the installation of an animal detection system and prepare for questions from the media. However, if the animal detection system does not become operational shortly after it has been installed, negative articles may start to appear in the media; if so, appropriate responses should also be prepared for media inquiries resulting from this situation.
- Develop Standards for displaying warning signs and signals. As more animal detection systems are installed and become operational, the need for standardization of warning signs and signals becomes more important. However, there remains much to be learned about how different signs may contribute to the effectiveness of an animal detection system, and regulations for traffic signs sometimes differ between states.
- In Montana, graphic warning signs with a black silhouette of an elk or a moose on a yellow background have been stolen in the past. This may be a reason to use text messages only, e.g., "wildlife crossing" on a yellow background. Furthermore, some states may need to modify the regulations regarding ITS signage to allow for signs that stimulate the drivers to use “extra” caution when the warning signs and signals are activated.
- Display cautionary messages even in the perceived absence of large animals. It should never be assumed that animal detection systems detect all large animals that approach the road. False negatives should be kept to an absolute minimum, but depending on the terrain, weather conditions, location of the sensors, potential equipment failure and weather conditions, the system may have blind spots or may be faced with very challenging conditions at certain times. Therefore the warning signs should inform drivers that they should pay “extra attention” to the potential presence of large animals on or near the road when the flashing warning lights are activated, rather than suggest that there are no large animals present (when the warning lights are not activated).
Author: Huijser, Marcel P., et al .
Published By: Oregon DOT
Prepared by the Western Transportation Institute - Montana State University, and Sensor Technologies and Systems, Inc. for the Oregon DOT
Source Date: August 2006
Other Reference Number: Report No. SPR-3(076)URL: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TP_RES/docs/Reports/AnimalVehicle.pdf
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
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