Moose - Motor Vehicle Collisions: A Continuing Hazard in Northern New England
David E. Clark1, *Gwendolyn Fulton2, *Julianne B. Ontengco1, *Tammy Lachance3, John E. Sutton, Jr.2
1Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME; 2Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH; 3Central Maine Medical Center, Lewiston, ME
Objective: To describe incidence and characteristics of moose - motor vehicle collisions (MMVC) in New England (NE)
Design: Retrospective cohort
Setting: Hospitals in NH and ME; epidemiologic data from all NE states
Patients: Persons injured in MMVC
Main Outcome Measures: Incidence, human mortality
Results: Collision with a moose is especially dangerous to motor vehicle occupants because of the height and mass of the animal, which often collapses the roof and impacts directly into the passenger compartment. For all NE, the annual incidence of reported MMVC has declined from a peak of >1100 in 1998, but still averaged 521 over the last five years, predominantly in ME and NH. Public education may have contributed to the decline, but the moose population may also have decreased due to environmental changes. NE MMVC are most frequent in the summer months and evening hours. Three NH/ME Trauma Centers registered 124 cases of MMVC: Median Injury Severity Score was 9; 5 patients died (4.0%); 73 patients (58.9%) had injuries of the head, face, and/or cervical spine. ME data on crashes involving wild ungulates from 2003-2017 document 50,281 collisions with deer and 7,061 collisions with moose. Multiple logistic regression models demonstrate that vehicle occupant mortality, after controlling for multiple factors related to speed, is greatly increased if the vehicle strikes a moose rather than a deer (OR 13.0, 95% CI 6.1, 27.9). In these data, there were no fatalities among occupants of Swedish cars, which are specifically engineered to tolerate MMVC.
Conclusions: MMVC remain a serious hazard to motor vehicle occupants in northern NE. Trauma services should recognize characteristic injury patterns. Continuing public education and cautious driving are warranted.