A moose test is a type of vehicle safety test designed to simulate the effect of a collision with an animal. The moose test originates in Scandinavia, where large ungulates, or hoofed mammals, often roam the road, posing a serious hazard to motorists. Not all car companies use moose testing, although many Northern European car companies including Saab and Volvo do. Some companies refer to the test as an elk test, due to the greater frequency of elk in the region.
Collision with a large animal can cause serious damage to a car and its occupants. Especially if the animal has horns which penetrate the windshield, the collision could potentially be deadly for all parties. At the very least, a vehicle that collides with a moose will need serious body work on the front end. Most drivers in rural areas have the dangers of animal collisions drilled into them from an early age, and will therefore go to great lengths to prevent collisions.
Swerving to avoid an animal can be as dangerous as hitting the animal itself, especially if the car is heavily laden with people and cargo and the road is slippery. The moose test is designed to account for both animal collisions and swerving to avoid them, and is usually performed on a closed course with a professional driver, although some car companies use automated safety testing systems to perform a moose test.
A moose test begins with the moose, which is usually simulated with steel and other strong materials, arranged to be about the size and shape of an adult moose. In a simple moose test, the car will be slammed into the moose at varying rates of speed to see what happens. The goal is for the car to flip the moose over the roof, thereby avoiding penetration of the windshield, although this may still do substantial damage to the car. In a more complex moose test, a driver will simulate spotting a moose, swerving to avoid it, and swerving back into the correct lane to avoid oncoming traffic. In this instance, the hope is that the vehicle will remain upright and will not spin out of control.
While the idea of a moose test may seem somewhat preposterous, the moose test has contributed several things to automotive safety, including reinforced windshields and careful A-pillar placement. These measures may prevent serious injury or death in the event of many types of collision, including one with a moose.