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The Utah Department of Transportation is trying an unusual high-tech way to stop that deer in your headlights from acting like, well, a deer in the headlights. The system, called DeerDeter , is triggered by light from oncoming cars. It uses sound and small strobe lights to deter deer from crossing the road, an animal behavior concept clearly borrowed from Monty Python’s Confuse-a-Cat, Ltd. Since the system is activated only by headlights, it won’t interfere with deer migration patterns as they cross lonely roads.


State officials have been testing 100 DeerDeter units along a stretch of Highway 191 in Monticello, an area known for a high number of collisions between deer and automobiles. As many as 300 dead deer must be removed from a 30-mile stretch there each year, which explains the state’s willingness to try the technology. The state reportedly bought 70 DeerDeter units at a reduced price. The remaining 30 were donated to further test the technology. To measure its effectiveness, Utah DOT has installed infrared cameras to observe how deer react. Jafa Technologies, the company that makes DeerDeter, says the sound simulates the cry of a frightened animal and the strobes simulate the reflection of a predator’s eyes.

I’m interested to see if it actually works. I’m even more interested to know what’s going through that guy’s mind as his convertible Benz speeds right into that mule deer.