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What is the Moose Test?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Sinbad — On Oct 15, 2011

The moose test sounds funny, but the actual test seems rather serious and very important, especially for people who live in rural areas that are moderately to heavily populated with larger animals who roam the street; like moose, elk, and deer. The signs really do not help much, because the animals cross the street whenever they feel it is safe, at different places, not just where the signs are. The signs did help me to slow down when I was younger and more prone to drive fast and recklessly though. I still have a fear of a large animal and I colliding and we both meet our fate right then and there.

I grew up in a rural area where there were lots of deer, so I know how serious this issue is. Many family and friends have been hit by a deer, or have hit a deer, whichever way you want to look at it, myself included. Luckily, when my accident happened I was with one other person, so I was less scared than I would have been alone. Also, the deer hit the side of the car, making a large dent in the passenger right side, but that was the extent of the car damage. The deer hobbled quickly away, so hopefully it was okay. My friend and I were a little shook up, but since my friend had had a similar accident before she helped me calm down.

I am glad now that where I live is still kind of rural, but does not have an over-population of big animals. I do not hear very many accidents caused by an animal just trying to cross the road, so that makes me feel somewhat safer.

By Clairdelune — On Oct 14, 2011

I'm sure that drivers in rural areas where there are moose or elk have had experience either actually swerving to avoid hitting a big animal or have practiced swerving.

What about the tourists who are driving in the area. Hopefully there are plenty of signs explaining the danger. I wonder how many car manufacturers have done the moose tests and made changes to the windshields and other parts of the car to make a possible collision a little safer.

By Misscoco — On Oct 13, 2011

I'll have to tell my cousin who owns a Saab that Saabs have probably been given the moose test. I have visited interior British Columbia and saw many moose hanging out along the roads everywhere.

It's a good idea to have cars tested and improvements made to send the moose over the top of the car, in case of a collision, to avoid car damage and injury.

If you encounter a moose in your lane, a car should be stable enough so that the driver can maneuver to avoid the moose and get back in his lane before a collision with another car. It must be doubly hard when you encounter a moose on the road after dark.

By Mykol — On Oct 12, 2011

I wonder if they have something called a deer test. We live in an area of the country that has many deer accidents.

It is not unusual to hear about 4-5 car/deer accidents in one morning on the news. Deer aren't as large as elk or moose, but the concept would be the same.

You never know what your reaction is going to be when an animal this large crashes into your car. Depending on where they hit and how much damage they do, it can be pretty scary.

By Perdido — On Oct 12, 2011

I have a friend who paid close attention to the results of moose tests before purchasing a new car. She moved to an area where these large animals frequently cross the road, and she wanted to buy the safest car on the market.

She told me that she has nightmares about hitting a moose or a large deer and the antlers coming through the windshield to kill her children. She has never been in a wreck involving a big animal before, so I don’t know where this fear came from, but it is a valid one.

She bought the car with the safest ratings she could find. She spent a little more than she would have liked, but she says the peace of mind it gives her is worth it.

By Oceana — On Oct 11, 2011

That is the funniest name for a vehicle test I have ever heard! I live in the South, so there are no moose around here. I guess here they would call it the cow test!

I can’t imagine having that job. If a professional driver is hired to hit a hard object in a vehicle, I wonder how he avoids injury? I have hit another vehicle before, and I felt the pain in my body for weeks afterward.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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