Wildlife warning signs aim to prevent AVC by influencing driver awareness and behaviour. The effectiveness of signs reduces if drivers become accustomed to them and don’t heed the warning. This problem arises when wildlife warning signs are overused or are not adapted to hazardous road sections. To solve these problems, road operators use various types of awareness signs, and complement them with reinforced warning messages such as reflective or illuminated panels, temporary signs activated only during conflictive periods, or those activated by Animal Detection Systems (ADS).
Appropriate maintenance of all types of wildlife awareness signs (standard, reinforced, temporary or activated by ADS) to ensure they function correctly is crucial to maintain their effectiveness. The correct location of signs corresponding to conflictive road sections identified is also a key factor.
Activities must not only include inspecting, cleaning and repairing signs, but also the maintenance of electric and electronic components including sensor and energy supply elements. Relocating or even removing wildlife warning signs to adapt them to the AVC hotspots location is also part of the maintenance tasks.
Maintenance practice should be modified according to the results and information gathered. A periodic expert evaluation of AVC hotspots (see Section 7.3.6 – Animal-vehicle collisions (AVC) management) is particularly important to determine if wildlife awareness signs are correctly placed or should be moved. Removal of signs should also be considered where there is no AVC risk in order to maintain the overall consistency of risk mitigation and to avoid drivers becoming desensitised to signs.
The effectiveness of wildlife awareness signs in announcing locations of risk may be enhanced by awareness campaigns organised to help drivers understand conflict and adapt their driving behaviour. The use of GPS apps which alert the location of wildlife awareness signs will also reinforce the understanding of the hazard and make drivers slow down.
The following descriptive maintenance task sheets are provided in Section 7.4 – Maintenance tasks sheets: