- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - Wildlife traffic zones are being eliminated from some of the state’s highways after a Colorado Department of Transportation study showed traffic signs and higher penalties often do not reduce wildlife crashes.

State officials said the law requires that speed limit signs be justified by research.

State lawmakers approved a measure that required reduced speed limits and higher traffic ticket fines in areas known to have higher-than-average wildlife-vehicle collisions. The Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Parks and Wildlife worked together to identify the zones.

Nancy Shanks, the Transportation Department’s regional communications manager, said doubled fines did not work in many areas.

“The program was meant to focus drivers’ attention on wildlife near the roadway. Unfortunately, not all drivers were complying. Sometimes it takes hitting something, a close call or a tragic accident to get people to slow down,” Shanks said.

The wildlife-zone study, which began in 2010, showed conflicting results, with some wildlife zones showing decreases in crashes while others showed increases. Some of the increases did not occur in the nighttime hours where the zones were in effect, further complicating the results.

Of the 14 areas studied, eight showed reductions in wildlife collisions, while six showed increased crashes.

Overall, there was a 9 percent decrease in the number of wildlife-vehicle crashes, day and night.

Zones that had a nighttime speed reduction with fines doubled showed a reduction of only 3 percent in vehicle accidents involving animals.

The best performing wildlife zone was south of Meeker, which had an average decrease in collisions of 71 percent, the Durango Herald reported Sunday (https://tinyurl.com/kyf2xdj).

The worst performing wildlife zone was from Kremmling to Vail, which had an increase of 59 percent in collisions.


Information from: Durango Herald, https://www.durangoherald.com

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