Moose aren’t deep thinkers in the best of times, but in rut season (i.e., now) they have lovin’ on their mind and they’re dumber than usual, wandering out into traffic at an alarming pace. We’ve got a collection of moose crash and avoidance videos that give you an idea of what running into, or avoiding one of these 1,000 pound creatures can do.
The first car manufacturer I remember talking about crashing their cars into some obstacle meant to represent a 1-ton animal was Saab in the late 1990s. Since then, Swedish manufacturers in particular have crashed cars into all manner of moose dummies, and the results are absolutely horrifying. It sounds pretty funny, but the results of crashing a car or truck into a moose are deadly, and getting more common every passing year. In the 1900s, just four moose were introduced Newfoundland. Today, the moose population there ranges around 150,000. Throughout Canada, the estimated population is between 500,000 and 1 million.
In New Brunswick, collisions with moose became such an issue that all new highway are rimmed with fences to help prevent the animals from crossing the highway. In Norway, 13,000 moose were killed in collisions with trains.
In the United States, the population is lower at around 300,000, but that population is concentrated in just a handful of our northernmost states.
The problem with moose is that they weigh between 500 and 1,500 pounds, and all of that weight is suspended on four spindly legs, at a height of 4-foot-nine to six-foot-seven at the shoulder, a height almost perfectly engineered to crush the A-pillars of a car traveling at highway speed. What makes crashes even more deadly is that despite being so large, moose are really hard to see, because their legs are so long.
Car manufacturers started really addressing the problem in the late 1990s in two ways: One is the moose avoidance test, in which a car’s ability to swerve around a moose at highway speed is evaluated. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class from 1997 spectacularly failed the test when Teknikens Värld rolled it while performing the maneuver. The magazine then evaluated a Trabant — perhaps one of the worst cars known to man — and it was able to manage the test with flying colors.
The second response was to build cars that could survive a crash with one of the animals. The tests started out with a 1,000-pound bundle of cable suspended five feet off the ground, but moose crash dummies got more sophisticated over they years, and provide a more realistic picture of what it’s like to barrel into one at 60 miles an hour.
Here’s how some cars from the last few decades fared:
Volvo V70 Estate Wagon
Peugeot 407 Estate Wagon
Hyundai Santa Fe
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
This is the avoidance test that Jeep disputed when Teknikens Värld tested it in 2013. In multiple tests, the magazine nearly put the truck on its roof with Jeep’s maximum payload of cargo and passengers in place. When Jeep tested it independently, it loaded the car with 1,036 pounds, which is almost 300 pounds shy of Jeep’s maximum payload. It managed to blow out a front tire and nearly roll the Grand Cherokee, too.
1997 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The mother of all moose avoidance test videos, which caused Mercedes-Benz to almost immediately mandate that all A-Class vehicles be equipped with stability control.
Loaded to its maximum payload capacity, the Porsche Macan gets about halfway through the test and pushes right through the cones.
This video dramatically displays the difference between vehicles with high centers of gravity when fitted with stability control. The Citroen Nemo doesn’t even offer it as an option. We don’t get either of these vehicles here, but we are getting similar vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200 now, both of which have standard stability control.
Ford Focus Estate Wagon