Deer reader

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Deer reader

Dear Bam: Yes, Ace must admit, the sad lack of basic sign-reading and comprehension skills among our native venison-producing population is truly astounding. But what are you going to do? The Bush Adminis-tration’s “No Doe Left Behind” program is criminally underfunded (and don’t even get Ace started on Rummy’s proposal to line every highway in America with a deer-repellent fence. “The Buck Stops Here,” my ass).
    But Ace digresses. The real thrust of your query is indeed intriguing: Who gets to decide which lucky roads get those snazzy yellow deer-crossing signs? To find out, Ace placed a cell phone call, whilst driving the Acemobile at breakneck speeds along Route 20, to Lou Hatter, VDOT’s public affairs manager for our district. The sign-posting decision, he told Ace, is an inter-agency affair.
    “The initial information comes from many sources. It could come from a game warden, a citizen, a VDOT employee, local police, or our own review of accident data,” Hatter told Ace. Once it’s suggested that an area might be roadkill central, the transportation troopers spring into action. “After we get a tip, we generally talk with the game wardens in that area, and then check the crash history information for that stretch of road,” Hatter explains. “Once we’ve ascertained that it’s warranted, we get the signs installed as soon as possible.”
    More importantly, Ace wonders as he speeds by one of those dynamic jumping-deer diamonds—cigarette in one hand, laptop in the other, phone pressed firmly to his ear—who designed that fine, iconographic bounding buck in the first place?
    “I’m not really sure,” Hatter admits. “But most of our highway signs are governed by a national standard, The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. That covers everything from signals, to signs, to the labeling of crosswalks, to the exact color of each sign. Highway construction signs, for instance, are always going to be bright orange with black lettering.”
    Well, that is interesting. So there you go, Bam—although Virginia’s growing deer population might never learn to read, at least you can rest assured that the ever-vigilant De-partment of Transportation is always work-ing to, whoa, yikes! Xei4k-*%9t5…sik