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In many areas of the country, automobile-deer collisions are pretty common. The result, unfortunately, isn’t very pleasant; the deer often get killed, the vehicles are heavily damaged and those in the car may be injured.  In order to help prevent such collisions, over the years, many solutions have been proposed. One of the more interesting ones is a simple device called a Deer Whistle. Deer whistles are small, inexpensive whistles that are attached to automobile bumpers or other parts of a car or truck. The question is: do they work?

The Theory behind Deer Whistles
The basic concept behind deer whistles is that when a car is moving, air blows through the whistle device and this produces ultrasonic whistle sounds. Scientists say these ultrasonic sounds are beyond human hearing, but they can be heard by deer and other animals. Allegedly these sounds are startling to deer and other animals, and will scare them off.

The Science of Deer Whistles
To start with, do deer actually hear ultrasonic sounds? Tests conducted by University of Georgia researcher Gino D’Angelo and coworkers, indicate that white-tailed deer can hear within the range of 0.25 to 30 kilohertz, with their best hearing sensitivity between 4 kHz and 8 kHz. Since anything about 20 kHz is considered ultrasonic, they indeed do hear ultrasonic sound.

So we know that deer can hear these whistles but do they scare them away? When scientific studies are undertaken on this behavior, the results are not encouraging.  Virtually all of the studies to date show no statistical difference in deer reactions regardless of the pitch of the sound. Basically, the studies conclude that there wasn’t any difference between “cars with deer whistles” versus “cars with without deer whistles” when it came to deer behavior.

But Some Insist They Work
OK, scientists aren’t convinced but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence does say that deer whistles do work. Some people swear by them and cite specific incidences when a deer-vehicle collision was averted because the vehicle had deer whistles installed.  In fact, some companies are so convinced that they install deer whistles on all the cars or trucks in their fleets.

Our friends at Central Ave, Hyundai (Hartsdale, NY) suggest we play devil’s advocate: If there was concrete evidence that deer whistles work in any demonstrable way, you can be sure that the car manufacturers would build them into all their car and truck models! You might even expect insurance companies to provide a discount or even offer free deer whistles to policyholders. In short, they would be everywhere.

So, Should You Buy Them?
Well, you could say that the jury is out on this one. Some say they do nothing and others swear that they work and prevent accidents. If you want to join the fray, deer whistles are cheap, available at most hardware and sports stores, and easy to mount. Try out a set and let us know how you make out!

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.