Staggering Toll On State’s Highways

Aug 7, 2019

Credit Courtesy of UC Davis

Traffic collisions with wildlife in California cost drivers an estimated $232 million last year according to a report out Wednesday from UC Davis. NSPR’s Marc Albert has more. 


Among the highlights, Interstate 5 and State Route 70 top the North State’s highways in terms of accidents involving vehicles and wildlife according to the report from The Road Ecology Center at UC Davis. Dividing the state by Assembly Districts, the large and rural 1st – covering the northeast corner of California and until recently represented by Brian Dahle, had both the most total accidents involving wildlife and the most injuries reported from those accidents. 

Fraser Shilling, director of the Road Ecology Center said high speeds and blind curves are often contributing factors. He said mule deer are the most commonly struck animals that are reported.  


He said data collected on traffic collisions with wildlife should help guide some roadway improvements, but not enough is being done. 


The sheer number of high risk areas identified by the center is daunting. 


“1,500 miles of hotspots, and in California we treat on average about two to three miles of highway a year per year, on average, so that means we have a couple of centuries of activity, and that’s just too long.” Shilling said.


Shilling said traffic has nearly wiped out predators from suburban areas of California, and that about an equal number of deer are killed in road accidents as from hunting annually.