Watch Out Bambi! New Lighting System Reduces Deer-Vehicle Collisions 

Deer-vehicle collisions account for about 1 million accidents each year that kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

USDA Wildlife Services researchers recently applied for a patent for a new vehicle-based lighting system to prevent deer-vehicle collisions during low-light condition, USDA said in a release on Wednesday.

During experiments with free-roaming white-tailed deer, researchers at the Wildlife Services program’s National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) found the use of a rear-facing light-emitting diode (LED) light bar resulted in fewer dangerous deer-vehicle interactions. 

These images show the difference in the “looming” appearance of approaching vehicles equipped with headlights (top) versus headlights plus the new rear-facing LED light (bottom).

The light bar illuminates a larger portion of the vehicle’s front surface than standard headlights alone, USDA said. In fact, the likelihood of dangerous interactions decreased from 35% to only 10% of vehicle approaches when using a rear-facing light bar plus headlights versus just headlights alone. 

Researchers attribute this to reduced instances of “freezing” behavior by deer when the light bar was used. 

“This new lighting system takes advantage of a deer’s predator avoidance behavior (also known as flight behavior),” lead author and former NWRC researcher Travis DeVault said in the release. “We predicted that light reflected from the front surface of the vehicle would provide a more reliable looming image to deer, thus encouraging the deer to move out of the path of the approaching vehicle.”

When an object “looms,” it becomes increasingly bigger to the perceiving animal, which helps the animal realize that the object is approaching and not stationary.

Most of the measures to reduce vehicle collisions with deer and other wildlife are road-based rather than vehicle-based, the release said.

“A vehicle-based system, such as the rear-facing LED light bar, advances efforts to reduce wildlife deaths and increase driver safety on roads,” USDA said in the release. “The patent-pending technology can be incorporated as an after-market device, like a brush guard or bumper, or can be embedded in the vehicle as part of the manufacturing process.”

The study “Frontal vehicle illumination via rear-facing lighting reduces potential for collisions with white-tailed deer” is featured in Ecosphere.

More from Farm Journal:


USDA Scientists Identify New Way to Detect African Swine Fever Virus

Carbon Goal Will Create Undue Hardships For Farmers, Congressman Says

Empty Trailers and 20 Years of Marriage

Coming to a screen near you Aug. 25-27 – the Farm Journal Field Days!    |    Register at


Latest News

Spring has Sprung and Show Season is Just Around the Corner. Are You Ready?

For your showing clients, now is a good time to discuss a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Many livestock shows will require a CVI -- even if the animal doesn’t have to cross state lines to get to the show.

Mastitis in Beef Cows: What You Need to Know

Although mastitis, an infection of the udder, is often considered a dairy cow problem, the disease may also impact beef producers. Here's what you need to know and look for and how to help protect your herd.

We Need More Answers, Veterinarian Says About Biosecurity Research

As a veterinarian, Jeremy Pittman, senior director of U.S. veterinary services for Smithfield Foods, says he is constantly tasked with, asked about and challenged on biosecurity processes or protocols. 

Mineral and Vitamin Considerations When Drylotting Cows

Managing cows in a drylot can be a way to maintain the herd when forage production is reduced. However, it's important to make sure cows are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

Animal Activist and Former Baywatch Star Found Not Guilty in ‘Open Rescue’

Former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and activist Alicia Santurio were found not guilty of misdemeanor theft after “rescuing” two chickens in 2021. Although they faced jail time, Paul says it was worth the risk.

7 Tips for More Effective Vaccination Programs in Calves

Ask 10 dairy producers what they believe is an effective vaccination program for calves, and you’ll likely get 10 unique answers. That’s OK, because there is no effective one-size-fits-all strategy.