The Road Administration (Maanteeamet) calls on drivers to take animal warnings seriously while driving along the newly finished Kose-Võõbu road section of the Tallinn-Tartu highway, as animals are often spotted on the road.
The Road Administration has said that there have already been situations where moose have reached the side of the road and are starting to cross with drivers whizzing by, having not reduced their speed enough, even after being warned by automatic speed limit restrictions and warnings.
Siim Vaikmaa, head of the Road Administration's traffic control center, said: "If warning and speed limit signs have lit up, we ask drivers to be especially careful near wildlife crossing areas. This means it is reasonable to reduce driving speed and even stop and turn on their car's hazard lights, if necessary."
There are three wildlife crossing areas constructed on the Kose-Võõbu section, which was completed in the middle of August, along with ecoducts built as bridges across the highway. An automatic animal detection system is also installed which will identify larger wildlife such as moose, bears, deer, wild boars, which in turn will light up warnings in the surrounding area. Smaller animals are not identified by the system.
The roadside wildlife fence is removed for wildlife crossing areas with rubber posts and rattle noise barriers installed instead of the middle barrier. Warnings with moose silhouettes are painted on the roads when approaching such crossing areas.
Ten radars are monitoring the roadside and if an animal is registered, a signal is forwarded to warning signs in the area where a light will go off and the speed limit is concurrently reduced to 70 km/h. The warnings will turn off after the animal passes.
The system is still being set up and there could be a delay, which is why speed limits have been reduced to 90 km/h when approaching the crossing areas.
Vaikmaa emphasized: "You should always be attentive in these areas, even when the automatic signs are dark. We are dealing with a technically complicated system in development which might not yet work at 100 percent efficiency just yet."
A thermal camera is connected to the system which allows for the animal to be identified. The first month of the road being open has shown that wildlife still crosses the road, which was constructed through a thick forest. Moose cross the road almost evert day and deer, boar and a bear have also been identified by the system.
Animals mostly cross in darker times of the day with reduced traffic, but as winter approaches, visibility on the road will worsen and risk of accidents increase. Statistically, the fall season has always had the most accidents which include wildlife, according to the Road Administration. Each year, an average of 120 collisions are registered.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste