Deer-Vehicle Collisions Kill 200 people every year in the U.S.

Collisions with large mammals such as deer are a frequent threat to road safety. In the US alone, deer-vehicle collisions cause about 200 deaths per year and $1.1 billion in damage. Similar statistics exist in Europe.

GenusWave’s Targeted Acoustic Startle Technology (TAST) is a breakthrough approach for separating and safeguarding animals and humans. TAST is the only acoustic deterrent proven effective and harmless, as documented in published and peer reviewed scientific literature. It has the potential to protect deer and drivers – and reduce the current tragic cost in human life and unnecessary animal deaths.

Conventional approaches do not work. Countermeasures, such as the “deer whistle” producing continuous warning noise, are widely considered ineffective. One challenge when deterring deer acoustically is that the noise produced by the vehicles masks signals designed to scare off the animals. Unless the alerting sound is very loud the animal will hardly hear it.

Even if the level is very high, animals still experience a sound of increasing loudness as the car approaches. While this could in theory alert the animal, it does not necessarily mean that a deer would consider such a sound as threatening.

Various types of continuous sound signals have been shown to cause only moderate avoidance responses which are subject to quick habituation. In other words, animals that are repeatedly exposed to the sound get used to it and do not respond.

GenusWave’s TAST is a potential solution. The system exploits an autonomous reflex arc in the mammalian brain stem – called “the acoustic startle reflex” – which causes flight and avoidance behavior.

Research has shown that this startle reflex interrupts ongoing behavioral patterns such as foraging, resets the body’s physiological state, and triggers a flight response. The startle reflex activates brain centers related to emotional processing and causes the animal to flee from the area of potential harm. In contrast to continuous sounds, repeated exposure to startling sounds leads to increased responsiveness.

Several issues need to be explored in future research. Many factors influence animal responses, and empirical data is needed to confirm the efficacy of TAST in this particular situation.

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