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Apr 5, 2011 5:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Reflectors Seem To Curb Deer Accidents

Apr 5, 2011 5:31 PM

Wildlife advocates say they are planning to extend a stretch of roadside reflectors along Stephen Hands Path that are meant to curb nighttime car-deer collisions, citing the apparent success of the experimental system so far.

The reflectors bounce light from incoming headlights between them, creating the illusion of movement, which is meant to deter deer from crossing in front of vehicles. The East Hampton Group For Wildlife placed them on a half-mile stretch of Stephen Hands Path in 2008, and there have been only two deer-related accidents in that area since then, according to the group’s president, Bill Crain.

The two accidents occurred at the corner of Route 114, where the stretch of reflectors starts, so it’s unclear if those deer were even in a position to see the reflectors, Mr. Crain said. He said his group is now looking to extend the experiment for another half-mile or so along Stephen Hands Path, in the interest of gathering more data before eventually asking East Hampton Town to install reflectors along other roads.

“Overall they look effective, but we want to be sure before we ask the town to expand,” Mr. Crain said. “We want to be conscious before we ask the town to go into this in a big way. It’s very promising, I’d say, right now.”

Town Police Chief Ed Ecker said only one deer-related accident on Stephen Hands Path has been reported to his department since the start of 2008, near the corner of Long Lane, which is within the area covered by the reflectors. Highway Superintendent Scott King said that, anecdotally, there seem to be fewer run-ins with deer on that stretch of road. “I don’t have any data to back it up, but I believe it’s working,” he said.

Mr. Crain said the former Town Board gave his group the go-ahead to install more reflectors in late 2009, but he will still run the idea past the current Town Board and the Highway Department before moving forward. He said his group could begin installing the additional reflectors this month or early next month.

Deer paths indicate that deer still cross Stephen Hands Path, according to Mr. Crain, but the low number of accidents indicates that they avoid it when vehicles are coming. Mr. King, however, said he has seen fewer deer paths crossing that section of Stephen Hands Path since the reflectors were installed, possibly indicating that deer have begun avoiding that stretch altogether.

Ron Delsener, vice president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, said he donated about $5,000 to put the first round of reflectors in. This time around, he said, he will pay whatever is not covered by other donations. “It’s worth it to save lives and save the deer,” he said.

The red reflectors, which are mounted on metal poles about three feet off the ground, are produced by an Illinois company called Strieter-Lite. East Hampton Fence Company did the labor at a reduced rate in 2008, Mr. Delsener said, and the 
group is looking to hire them again.

Citing accidents and other concerns, the East Hampton Town Board has discussed deer culling measures in recent months, although it has not taken any action. Mr. Crain said his group’s experiment will show the town can reduce accidents without killing deer.

Mr. Crain also said there appears to be a correlation between speed and deer collisions. He said there are virtually no such accidents on residential streets, where the speed limits are low and generally observed. Almost all of the accidents, he said, occur on highways or roads where speed limits tend to be ignored.

“It looks like speed of driving is a huge factor, so if we could get the town to slow down driving, that would be a major benefit,” he said.

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Speaking of accidents - that bus is headed right off the road!
By zaz (194), East Hampton on Apr 6, 11 2:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
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