Evaluating the Underreporting of Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions and Interactions in Arizona

Wildlife-vehicle collisions can have grave consequences that can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities, in addition to threatening wildlife populations. These collisions can be significant in terms of damage to life and property. However, there are also many interactions in Arizona between wildlife and vehicles that go unreported altogether, such as when a vehicle hits an animal and leaves the scene—or does not even stop. This can be the case particularly for younger animals or smaller species. In addition, wildlife-vehicle interactions are not always accurately reflected in the Accident location Information Surveillance System (ALISS), the statewide traffic crash database, or the Arizona Crash Information System (ACIS), the statewide geocoded crash location tool. There are examples of this occurring when secondary and avoidance collisions (i.e., collisions from fixed or moving objects or rollovers) occur and the involvement of an animal is not recorded on the crash form data feed that supplies information into the databases. However, in some of these cases, the information may be documented in the crash form’s narrative; unfortunately, that does not guarantee that the information gets captured in the crash database. In one particular case, a driver was killed while avoiding an elk on I-17. The elk was mentioned in the news article of the incident, and the Department of Public Safety officer preparing the crash report mentioned “elk” or “animal” 30 times in the report narrative documentation but did not check the box that would indicate the crash was animal-caused and, as a result, the incident does not appear as such in the database. In addition to the crash data, other statewide databases are available that may help identify the extent of the problem such as the maintenance data and the animal carcass removal data that is maintained separately by different ADOT groups but this data is not linked to the crash database. In addition, other animal behavior data exists within Arizona Game and Fish (AZGFD) and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) which could also provide valuable insights on animal activity in the areas of traffic or crashes. This study will help ADOT understand the extent of the underreporting of these wildlife-vehicle collisions and interactions and may recommend actions that ADOT can take to more accurately estimate the incidence of wildlife-vehicle collisions and interactions. Accurate crash data is critical as it is used to analyze and identify projects to enhance roadway safety and contribute to informed decision making.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $384,121
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Arizona Department of Transportation Research Center

      206 S. 17th Avenue
      ADOT Research Center
      Phoenix, AZ  United States  85007
    • Project Managers:

      McIlwain, Julie

    • Performing Organizations:

      Arizona Game and Fish Department

      2221 West Greenway Road
      Phoenix, AZ  United States  85023-4399
    • Principal Investigators:

      Gagnon, Jeff

    • Start Date: 20221227
    • Expected Completion Date: 20281227
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01850658
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Arizona Department of Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: SPR-785
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Jun 29 2022 4:21PM