To witness the system in action, I drove up the stretch of Highway 138 north of Cornwall, Ontario, where the Rotalec design is being tested. The warning signs on this densely traveled route leading up to Ottawa were definitely noticeable from a driver's perspective, while the posts with radar sensors, which are about half the height of a regular telephone pole, were relatively unobtrusive. On my drive, no deer or moose appeared to trigger the lights.
It requires three radar-enabled stanchions to cover the roughly one and a quarter mile distance, costing a total of about $270,000 for the entire system, including solar panels, backup batteries and the network connection. Several municipalities are looking at possibly installing similar equipment in areas of Alberta, Newfoundland, and British Columbia, where deer and moose present a constant danger. At least one state in the Midwest is also looking at Rotalec's project.
Dickson says the equipment is also mobile, enabling communities to study particular neighborhoods and roads to pinpoint trouble spots where installing a permanent warning system would be most effective. It can also work in suburban areas where there's been an increase in the deer population over the past few years.
So far, during the first four months of the project in Ontario, there are have been no reported animal-car accidents. “We have seen deer in the area, and we have seen vehicle speeds drop on a regular basis” when the warning lights come on, says Dickson. The real test, however, will begin in the fall when deer mating season begins and drivers have to be even more alert to animal crossings.
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