Collisions between vehicles and livestock happen every day in America. These collisions invariably result in property damage, injury, and in some cases even death to passengers. Studies show that most serious accidents involving vehicles and animals happen at night when visibility is low, and animals disappear into the darkness. In these cases the driver has little or no time to avoid or even slow down before striking the animal.
Here is something to consider. The average deer weighs from 80 to 160 pounds, and hitting a deer can easily total an automobile and can do damage to a large truck. In comparison, an average steer weighs roughly 1200 pounds. So a collision with an animal of this size will most likely result in the death of the animal, $1700, the totaling of a vehicle, $30,000, and in some cases, severe injury, $100,000, or the death of passengers in the vehicle, priceless. So it goes without saying that it would be a positive thing for these animals to be made as visible at night as possible.
Livestock have one thing that deer and other wild animals do not have, ear tags. Ear tags are used to identify each head of cattle much like a bar code or serial number would identify a product in a store. By adding reflective tape to ear tags, cattle can be seen at night when hit with a cars headlights. And the fact that cattle are normally in groups or herds makes this addition even more effective. (see image above)
Most cattle or livestock are marked with a plastic id tag that can easily and inexpensively be made reflective by the simple addition of bright reflective tape. These tags range from 2″ x 2″ to 2.5″ x 3″. A simple rectangle or square of high visibility prismatic reflective tape placed on the back of the id tag can be seen clearly for almost a thousand feet way. A separate tag with reflective tape on both sides can also be used on the opposite ear. A thin and very bright tape like Oralite V82 (AP1000) is recommended due to its low profile and long sight distance. As a comparison, engineer grade reflects at 75 candelas, whereas V82 reflects at over 1000 candelas. (for white) So when you only have room for a small piece of reflective sheeting, you need it to be bright. Note – This type of livestock marking is especially important in “open range” states.
In conclusion, the cost of a roll of 2″ prismatic tape is nominal when compared with the property damage and injury it can prevent. And applying it can all be done before the tags are placed on the cattle, which makes the job easy.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.