Much like in North America, moose and deer can have a detrimental effect on traffic in Norway. After years of failed attempts to keep wildlife off the roads, officials are now implementing something the locals have nicknamed a “disco pole.” Do not expect to see any disco balls alongside Norway’s roads, these devices are instead a sophisticated alarm system that detects car headlights and uses noises and LED lights to scare moose away.
According to The Guardian, the average damage to a car involved in a moose-related accident is around 150,000 kroner, or just under 25,000 US dollars. The large animals are also especially dangerous to motorists, capable of causing serious injury and even death. Maine, the state with the largest moose population in the United States, has seen over 500 moose-vehicle accidents over the past decade. The Press Herald reports that 22 of these accidents were fatal for the driver or passengers. With Norway’s moose population being significantly higher than Maine’s (an estimated 120,000 compared to Maine’s 76,000), officials have been contemplating deterrence solutions for years.
The most common strategy was building moose-proof fences alongside roads. Unfortunately, this led to the animals skirting around the fence and running onto roads, therefore actually increasing the number of collisions. Motion sensors were deployed and were effective in scaring away moose, but other small animals such as birds also set the alarms off. Now officials are hoping that a device that only reacts to car lights will be the solution. But what about during the day, when drivers usually do not have their lights on?
It won’t be a problem in Norway, said regional road administrator Henrik Wildenschild.
“Since it’s the law that headlights must be on day and night in Norway, this should work perfectly. Even a 30 percent reduction in collisions would be a success for us,” he told The Guardian.
Once triggered by headlights, the “disco poles” will emit a shrill, pulsating sound and begin flashing in blue and yellow lights. The designers hope it will be enough to scare the large animals away from the road. Wildenschild said that the devices are in production and will soon be installed across several of Norway’s major roadways for testing. One unknown factor that officials are worried about is how the device will effect other wildlife and domestic animals. Meanwhile, Maine is also stepping up efforts to prevent moose-related accidents with new, computerized lights that will turn on to provide passing motorists with additional visibility.