Driving in Alaska comes with its own share of surprises and quirks – particularly throughout the winter. You have all the usual concerns: ice, snow, darker days, longer nights, obscured vision, and reckless drivers. But on top of this, you’ll want to look out for moose and other wildlife while driving your Alaska car and van rentals.
None of this is to scare you. Driving in this state is merely unique. And if you’re well prepared, you’ll find that driving your Alaska car and van rentals can be quite enjoyable. After all, we have some of the most beautiful scenery in the nation. There are ways to keep yourself safe and our wildlife safe.
In 2013 it was estimated that as many as 700 to 800 moose are reported to die a year in Alaska from collisions with motor vehicles, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. While not all moose die from collisions, its more likely that they will be injured than you will – particularly with the increasingly advanced safety systems in today’s cars.
Many attempts have been made in recent decades to reduce the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions, particularly in December and January where the risk is greater. However, what precautions the government enacts are quite out of your hands. What you can control, though, are your own precautionary techniques to avoid hitting moose, elk, and deer in your Alaska car and van rentals.
While seeing moose can be difficult when they’re on the shoulder of the road, or in dark or stormy conditions, using high beams can help increase your chances of seeing the moose in time to stop. If the road isn’t busy – which is likely isn’t if moose are brave enough to cross – and there’s no one coming at you, use your high beams. Low beams won’t offer you the distance you need. Avoid distractions, and scan both the shoulders and center of the road regularly.
Slow your Alaska car and van rentals down
Given that it winter, you’ll likely be driving a little slower as it is. Don’t let a quiet, isolated road trick you into thinking you can drive a little faster. Keep your speed slow to increase your braking time in case you see a moose, deer, or elk.
Remember also that the faster you’re going, the more likely you are to harm the animal. Even in the unfortunate instance that you do collide, the slower the speed, the less likely you are to destroy your vehicle and kill the animal.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that speeding up with scare the moose into moving. It won’t, and you’ll increase odds of casualties.
Be alert, especially around forested areas
Moose, deer, and elk are more likely to cross the road in forested areas of the highway. It’s a good idea to slow down a little more, and be extra alert in areas where forests are largest. Be particularly mindful of the shoulders of the road. Be prepared to brake slowly, and avoid distractions in these regions. Make sure the kids have something to entertain them, the pets are in the backseat, the radio is low, and your high beams on to increase your vision.
Dawn and dusk are popular times
Though you’ll still see moose throughout the day and at night, the more likely times are dawn and dusk. Between 4 and 6 am, and 6 and 11 pm, be especially alert. Keep an eye out for animals and watch the shoulders.
When you’re slowing down for a moose, give your horn a little honk. Sometimes this will scare the moose, deer, or elk away from the road. Not always, though. At the very least, it will alert the animal to your presence, which could benefit both of you.
Keep an eye out for babies
Where there’s a mother, there are babies. If you see a female moose (without antlers), watch out for her calves. The chances are that if she’s crossing, they’re following – even if they aren’t following closely. So just because she’s crossed don’t speed up again. Stay still for a few minutes and watch the shoulders to make sure there aren’t more coming.
Start your trip off on a safe note. Our Alaska car and van rentals will ensure you get to all of your holiday parties in style and with reliability. Reserve your vehicle from Avis today to stay safe this winter.