When you live and make cars in the great white north country of Sweden, you have to take into account some things that may not occur to the average Cincinnati car repair technician. Sure, we may know a lot about road salt and potholes, but when it comes to charismatic megafauna, our expertise is somewhat lacking. Luckily for us, Volvo has taken the time to make sure that their cars are prepared for just about every eventuality in the case of an accident. And that includes an encounter with a majestic moose. Luckily for us, if you are in Ohio, that preparation and protection also translates well to an encounter with a slightly less majestic whitetail deer.
Don’t Underestimate the Mighty Moose: They’re Gigantic
If you’ve never seen a moose close up, you can’t fully understand just how big they actually are. The average size for a male moose can be around 6 feet tall at the shoulder. This doesn’t include the height of the neck, head, or that jaw-dropping rack. The average weight of a male is often well over half a ton, with the higher end of that average at a staggering 1,543 lbs. A female on the smaller end of average will still weigh almost 500 lbs. Suffice to say, you really don’t want to run your car into a moose.
Many car accidents that involve a moose happen in a specific way. The vehicle strikes the moose’s legs, which then tips the moose over on top of the car. Depending on the speed and trajectory of the collision, the moose is likely to end up on the roof of the car, crushing the cabin of the car and anyone inside. In addition, many moose accidents don’t deploy the airbags because the car doesn’t slow down quite as dramatically as in other types of impacts. So, when you live in Sweden, or any other area with a large moose population, the question of, “What happens when you hit a moose with your car?” becomes quite pressing.
Multiple Moose Tests: Keeping Drivers Safe from Wildlife
Taking wildlife into consideration has been on car engineers’ minds for decades. Before Volvo developed their moose crash test dummy that we keep hinting about, there was an original moose test that required less specialized equipment that first began to be used in Sweden since the 70s. Originally—and more officially—called the Undanmanöverprov or Evasive Maneuver Test, this test was designed to make sure that a car was able to quickly and safely take evasive action to avoid an accident.
The Evasive Maneuver Test simulates having to suddenly swerve out of the lane you are driving in to avoid an obstacle and then immediately back into your lane to avoid oncoming traffic. When they came up with the criteria, they were thinking of what a driver’s natural evasive action would be if a car was suddenly backing out on to the street or if a child darted into traffic. Along the way, however, the more common name became Älgtest or the Moose Test. Interestingly enough, this moose test is actually not great when it comes to real moose. A real moose is much more likely to continue walking across the street—which means swerving probably isn’t the best solution.
The Other Swedish Moose Test Had A Disgusting Beginning
It’s the 1980s. You want to find out what happens when a moose crashes into one of your cars. Moose crash test dummies don’t actually exist. You can probably see where this is going.
Sweden is a beautiful country that is just chock-full of incredible natural landscapes. The moose also understandably love these wild places. This means that according to a paper written by the foremost moose crash test dummy expert Lotta Jakobsson, that when you are driving at the speed that you would on a highway, you are passing within 1000 feet of some kind of large wild animal (they have more than just moose in Sweden!) every 23 seconds.
To be prepared for anything that could happen when those 1000 feet become 0, the 1980s Volvo team decided to rustle up a dead moose. And then run one of their cars into it. Though details on this initial test are few and far between, they quickly determined that maybe bringing rotting wildlife into a testing facility wasn’t the most viable idea in the long run. So, they started developing the moose crash test dummy.
Need a Fake Moose? Volvo’s Engineers Are Already On It
Though much more elegant than a dead animal, the first makeshift moose didn’t quite have what it took to be the final fake moose. The first was made of bundles of wire all tied together to resemble the massive destroyer of cars. The second one contained rubber hoses that were filled with water, which likely also led to a somewhat messy cleanup from time to time.
Today’s moose stand-in is comprised of 114 heavy rubber discs that are held together with bolts and wires in roughly the shape of a decapitated moose with long blue socks. This dummy weighs 790 lbs, which though not as big as the biggest moose, is still gigantic by itself. There are some videos of it in action, and if you haven’t thought about what happens if you run your car into a moose, you will now.
Volvo Says Safety First: We Prepared for Local Megafauna
One of the most interesting things about this brave crash test moose is that there is only one other like it in existence—which also lives in Sweden. Volvo is the only car company who focused on the very real danger of moose impacts and made their cars safer because of it. If you are looking for a car to keep your loved ones safe, you can’t go wrong with a Volvo, because they are ready for just about everything.