Helping the Iowa State Patrol Be Watchful for Whitetails

Jun 16, 2016

One quarter of all damage done to Iowa State Patrol cars comes from collisions with animals.
Credit Iowa Department of Public Safety

Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation is working with the State Patrol to help identify areas where deer and other wildlife are likely to cross the roadway.

Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says in 2014, more than a quarter of the damage done to their service vehicles came from animals.

We have about 350 state patrol cars in our fleet, so what we’re trying to do is basically mitigate the cost to the taxpayer and try and identify these problem areas," he said. "We are always on the lookout for animals, but if we know they are problem spots really be on the lookout.”

Ludwig says the majority of the crashes involve deer, but last year a trooper had a close encounter with a wild turkey.

"It was coming through the windshield and it basically destroyed the whole inside of his car all the way through to the backseat," he said.  "It took out his computer, it was quite the mess.  So imagine all that expensive equipment, that damage compared to a regular car is substantially more.” 

Ludwig adds the goal is to have the data programmed into the vehicle’s on-board computers.  The system would to alert the officer when they enter a so-called  “animal hotspot.”