It’s that time of year again, when the elk and deer so abundant on the Front Range are most active crossing US 6. September to January is the high season for these animals to cross the road. They like crossing over to Fossil Trace Golf Course for a good graze where the grass is high in nitrogen content, then head back to their home on the other side of US 6. More than 75 percent of vehicle/wildlife collisions occur between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. but they can cross at any time of the day so it’s important to keep an eye out.
In 2010, CDOT installed an at-grade wildlife crossing on US 6 between Heritage Road and 19th Street. In 2011, vehicle/wildlife collisions significantly decreased, but in recent years, the number of collisions have been increasing. This may be due to motorists becoming “immune” to the flashing lights, which can also be triggered by other movements such as vegetation blowing in the wind. Sometimes, even when triggered by wildlife motorists can’t see the animals, which can also lead to motorists thinking the lights are an unreliable indicator.
To avoid collisions, the best thing you can do is be aware. If you see the lights flashing, slow down and watch for animals attempting to cross. Just because you don’t immediately see anything, doesn’t mean an animal isn’t there ready to bound out at any moment. Be especially wary at dawn, dusk and nighttime hours when visibility is lower and collisions are most likely to happen.