Reducing the Speed Limit Won’t Make Roads Safer for Wildlife

Dusk. The road winds through this cold desert, snow piles tucked in the lee of every sagebrush like the white bottoms of the pronghorn that call this place home. Around a bend, there are fields, dry stubble dotted with mule deer. A hundred, at least, in this one spot.
With sudden purpose, a doe hops the fence and enters the right-of-way. Several others lurk behind, waiting to see what their leader will do. Her antenna-like ears are perked, scooping the hum of the car. She hesitates.
Maybe she will; maybe she won’t. I slow to give her the pause to make her decision. Her safety depends on it. So does mine.

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And herein lies the premise: if drivers are moving slowly enough, they will have time to avoid hitting large animals, such as deer and pronghorn, on the road. Drivers who are driving more slowly have a shorter stopping distance – the time it takes to see an animal, hit the brake, and stop.
This premise underlies a question I have heard countless times:…



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