Moose are on the move around the state. The proof is in the recent accident listings of the Alaska State Troopers. It's proof, too, that it's time to work on those late-year driving skills.
Three of five collisions with moose in a six-day stretch of August occurred around midnight and 1 a.m., when motorists might not be able to see a moose striding onto the roadway now that darkness has returned. One of the five accidents occurred near Delta Junction; the others occurred from the Matanuska-Susitna area to the Kenai Peninsula. Colliding with a moose is serious business.
Moose can weigh 1,000 pounds or more and can roll across the top of a vehicle's hood and into the passenger compartment, bringing major injuries or even death. No life-threatening injuries were reported to have occurred in the five collisions noted here, though one person was flown to an Anchorage hospital and was later listed in good condition.
Even if drivers and passengers do survive a collision uninjured, the moose itself often doesn't. Vehicles also might not survive, as was the case just after 1 a.m. Saturday on the Kenai Peninsula when a moose stepped in front of a Ford pickup. The driver, who was wearing a seat belt, wasn't injured, but his truck was totaled. Damage in other moose collisions this month ranged from $2,000 to $8,000.
Moose are quick animals and can make sudden lunges from roadside woods, which is one reason that crews from the state Department of Transportation can occasionally be seen clearing brush and trees from a wide swath on either side of many Alaska highways. The clearing allows motorists who are paying attention and scanning for moose should be second nature to Alaska drivers to spy a moose early enough to slow down.
With the gradual return of night the stars and northern lights already have come back drivers might want to make sure their headlights are working and clean off their coverings to better see moose, who because of their dark coloring blend in a bit too well.
And now might be a good time to hone those fall and winter driving skills and, as highway signs around the state have noted for years, "give moose a brake."
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Aug. 9
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