BY JACOB RUSSELL
According to NEWS10, on October 8th, 2022, 48 year old Jason St. Pierre crashed his Jaguar into a cow on Route 105 while going at a speed of over 100 miles per hour. Unfortunately, both Pierre and the unlucky cow were killed in the accident. Why the cow was on the open road in the first place, along with the identity of the cow’s owner, remains a mystery. Allowing a domesticated farm animal the ability to roam freely is considered a state crime.
This event raises significant questions and concerns about road safety in Vermont, especially animal crashes like this case.
According to the PEW research center, “An estimated 1 million to 2 million crashes between motor vehicles and large animals such as deer occur every year in the U.S., causing approximately 200 human deaths, 26,000 injuries, and at least $8 billion in property damage and other costs. In rural states such as Wyoming, wildlife-vehicle crashes represent almost 20% of reported collisions.” This shows how important wildlife road safety is, and how big the effect is in rural states like Vermont.
However, the PEW research center has also come up with a plan to combat this issue by asking Congress to update and revise America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. They hope that these new revisions will “…provide competitive matching grants for states, municipalities, and tribes to undertake projects and strategies to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. Because new technology reliably shows hot spots where many animals cross highways and roads, these infrastructure investments could be very successful in reducing collisions, improving motorists’ safety, and enhancing habitat connectivity”.
In terms of actions that can be taken that can directly reduce wildlife and vehicle crashes(WVC), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) stated,“There are no simple solutions to reducing WVCs. In this study, the research team reviewed 34 mitigation techniques, a number of which are effective in reducing WVCs, show promise, or are considered good practice, including integrated planning efforts, wildlife fencing and wildlife crossing structures, animal detection systems and public information and education.”
By implementing both wildlife fencing, as well as specially designed animal highways and crossing bridges, we can better prevent the issue of wildlife collisions and save countless numbers of lives and property damage.
An example of man-made structure allowing for safe animal crossing
If this event has taught Vermonters anything, it is that especially in these coming winter months to be very vigilant and aware of animals or potential collisions in order to protect both ourselves and our animal neighbors.