Driver, 2 passengers injured in collision with moose on Maine Turnpike

·2 min read

Jun. 1—Three people were taken to a hospital after a collision with a moose early Wednesday morning on the Maine Turnpike in Scarborough.

The crash was reported just before 1 a.m. near mile marker 40 in the southbound lanes of the turnpike in Scarborough. After hitting the moose, the driver of the car, 23-year-old Jordan Andujar of Windham, struck a passing tractor-trailer, according to Maine State Police.

Andujar and his two passengers were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with injuries police described as not life threatening.

The moose died and was removed by the Maine Turnpike Authority.

There are hundreds of crashes involving moose each year in the state, according to the Maine Department of Transportation, which tracks collisions with moose, deer, bears and turkeys.

The number of crashes involving moose has dropped dramatically over the years, from 618 in 2003 to 256 in 2019. But they have been slightly on the rise recently, with 261 crashes reported in 2020 and 294 in 2021.

There have been 45 crashes involving moose through the end of May this year, according to MDOT data. Most of those crashes occurred between 5 and 11 p.m.

Collisions with moose increase dramatically in May and June, according to MDOT. Moose are most active at dawn and dusk and they also travel at night. Drivers should be especially alert after sunset because dark colored animals can be very hard to see until they are right in front of headlights.

Because moose are so tall, drivers might not see their headlights reflect from the animal's eyes as you would with a deer or smaller animal. Unlike deer that dart across the road, moose tend to move slowly, moseying along the roadway or even standing right in the middle of it. They often blend into the shadows along the shoulders of the highway.

If a crash is unavoidable, MDOT advises drivers to apply the brake but let up just before impact — and aim to hit the tail of the animal, if possible, and duck down to minimize injuries. The idea is to increase the chances that the moose goes over the car and not into it, headfirst.

Maine's moose population is the largest of all the lower 48 states, with an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 animals, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.