How to avoid a collision on the road with a moose.
If you’ve never seen a moose, they’re impressive, but there’s one spot where you never want to see them: on or near a road that you’re travelling on. And in the fall, when male moose are rutting (competing for dominance to mate) and the animals are trying to survive hunting season, moose are actively on the move, especially at dawn and dusk.
Why Are Collisions with Moose so Dangerous?
Moose are big animals, like really big. They’re tall, about 2 metres, and can weigh up to 600 kg (over 1,300 pounds!) It’s said hitting an animal as large as a moose is similar to the impact of colliding with a small car. What’s most hazardous about a collision with a moose is what happens after the animal is initially struck.
“When a vehicle hits a moose, the bumper, engine, and built-in crumple zones of the car that are intended to absorb the majority of an impact only hit the thin legs,” explains the Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre (WRRC) a project of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “The full weight of the moose’s upper body instead impacts the windshield and roof of the vehicle.”
This reality is what makes it especially prudent to watch out of moose while driving, particularly in areas where they favour: rural areas where there are bodies of water (lakes, rivers, wetlands) nearby.
Tips to Minimize the Risk of Hitting a Moose on the Road
Although the moose population in Canada is relatively small, there’s somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million of them, the damage they can cause is significant.
- Try to avoid driving during high risk times, if possible. Collisions are more likely to occur one hour before and after dusk and dawn; in October and November; and, on two lane highways.
- Watch for wildlife warning signs. These signs are usually placed in areas where there have been collisions or near misses reported.
- Scan your surroundings constantly. Watch for movement on the road ahead as well as to the sides. And if you’re driving with passengers, ask them to watch for animals too.
- Do not speed. Every second of your reaction time counts if a moose or any wildlife suddenly appears on the road.
- Use your high beams as much as possible. The more you can see the better, but remember to use your high beams responsibly so that you’re not blinding oncoming traffic or those ahead of you.
When You See a Moose While Driving
If you see a moose while driving:
- Don’t honk your horn. Resist the urge to flash your lights or honk your horn to scare the moose away. According to the WRCC, moose tend to be aggressive and doing so when they’re near could incite them to charge your vehicle.
- Slow down. Wildlife are unpredictable. Even if the moose appears to be a safe distance away, put your hazards on and slow down until you’ve safely passed them.
- Keep an eye out for more. Often when there’s one, there’s more, as animals tend to travel in groups.
If a collision with a moose is unavoidable, take your foot off the gas, grip the steering wheel firmly, and aim for the flanks (rear) of the moose to minimize the risk of the moose sliding across the hood of your car.
Will Your Car Insurance Cover the Damages?
If your auto insurance policy includes both collision and comprehensive coverage, then you’ll likely be covered for the resulting damages. Which coverage applies, however, may vary depending on the circumstances of the collision.
Did the moose suddenly appear on the road? If so, then typically your comprehensive coverage would apply as there would be little you could do to avoid it. Was the animal dead on the road from a previous collision? If so, then your collision coverage would usually apply as there’s an expectation that you should have seen it in time to make a reasonable—and safe—effort to avoid the collision.
“Cases like this are a great example of why insurance is complicated, and why consumers should always research their policies,” said Anne Marie Thomas, our in-house insurance expert. “By asking the right questions, consumers can make sure the policy is the right one for them.”
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