Light Bar on Car Helps Deer Steer Clear

According to State Farm, over 1.9 million animal-vehicle collision insurance claims were filed between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. Of those, the vast majority that resulted in human injury involved deer struck at night. With the exception of expensive fencing and wildlife underpasses or overpasses, few strategies have reliably reduced animal-vehicle collisions.

Photo by Sean Thomforde
Photo by Sean Thomforde

Dr. Travis DeVault and colleagues from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center found that a rear-facing LED light bar, affixed to the vehicle in between the headlights (so that it illuminates the grill area of the vehicle), reduced deer-vehicle collisions. In their study, published in Ecosphere, when the light bar was deployed, deer-vehicle collision risk decreased from 35 percent to 10 percent of the times vehicles approached deer. The scientists concluded that use of the light bar produces “a more reliable looming image to deer” and is therefore more likely to trigger predator avoidance (rather than freezing-in-the-headlights) behavior. 

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