Despite software glitches and public frustration with the moose sensor pilot project on the Trans-Canada Highway, Transportation Minister Paul Davis said for as long as they’ve been operational, there have been no moose accidents in that area.
On the other hand, he said, the same thing can’t be said for the trial moose fencing the government has put on the highway on the west coast.
“I was very interested to learn there’s actually been two moose-vehicle collisions within the fenced area since the fence was installed,” he said. “These systems are pilot projects. A pilot project is an opportunity to test technology, test a potential solution and determine if it’s effective, is it viable, what are the costs, what are the operational issues and so on?”
Davis wanted to explain a few things to people after a demonstration in the Confederation Building lobby from members of the Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC) who are pushing the government to do more to prevent moose accidents.
SOPAC spokesman Eugene Nippard said he doesn’t think the sensors do any good, don’t work and that they provide a false sense of security to drivers.
Davis said part of the problem is the system works by using sensor beams between the posts — a high one and a low one — and if something breaks both beams, the warning lights flash for three minutes.
“It’s not uncommon for a moose to turn around and go back into the woods. So what has happened is people have been travelling through the area, they see the lights flashing and they don’t see an animal, and we get called (and they say) it’s not working,” he said. “The moose may graze or stay near the side of the road for more than three minutes, or be in the median or up on the highway itself.”
Davis added that the other component of the province’s moose efforts is a system to log the exact location of every moose-vehicle collision.
When they figure out what works, they’ll also know the key areas to put the proper devices in.
“If we’re going to make further investments in these types of systems, the first thing is we have to know they work,” he said. “Second thing we have to know is, where do we put them?”