You don't want to crash into one of these.
This is a taxidermal specimen of a moose. Also known as an elk, there are about 150,000 of them living in the forests in Finland. Apparently, just about 30km away from home, we might be able to encounter one of these.
Here in Finland, between six months and two years after passing the driving test, one has to take what-is-called Phase II driving lessons. Phase II consists of an approximately half-hour drive with an instructor so he/she can point out areas that need improvement, and a 6-hour course at the slippery tracks.
Three weeks ago, I spent 6 hours at the slippery track driving centre. After an hour of briefing on the day's programme, the class of 6 took turns slipping and sloshing on oiled roads. One by one, we drove our cars around strategically-placed obstacles. Instructor-of-the-day Merja reminded us many times over the walkie-talkie: "Winter is coming very soon. The roads are going to be slippery."
After the driving session, Merja brought us to the "Safety House". More like house of driving horrors. We went through a maze of exhibits relating to traffic accidents. Mr Moose here and a badly-crumpled car was the first scene to greet us.
Mr Moose and his friends like to venture out of the forest when the day turns dark. This week, the sun rises at around 7 am and sets at 6.30 pm. They don't realise that at 7 pm Human Time, the night is still young and the highways are buzzing with vehicles. Statistically, the highest rate of accidents takes place between 6 pm - 7 pm during winter months.
The specimen in the Safety House stands at over 1.8m and weighs more than 250kg. According to Merja (a well-built lady who referred to me as "the small girl"), this was a young moose - it's just about 4 years old. A typical moose can grow taller than 2m and adds bulk on its body as it ages.
Should a car crash into a moose, the bonnet will hit its legs, thus smashing its huge body against the windscreen. The force of impact will easily cause lethal injuries to those in the front seats.
This morning, we woke up to 4ºC. The highest day time temperature reached today was around 9ºC. Looks like we are bidding the teens goodbye. First snow fell in the north of Finland yesterday and we are expecting sub-zero nights later this week.
I haven't update the blog for 2 weeks because I've been nursing a bad flu. I showed symptoms like headache, high fever, muscle aches, fatigue... Is it, dare I say it, swine flu? I didn't see the doctor or got tested. Thank goodness I've recovered after plenty of rest and some analgesics. This couple of weeks felt so long, but I was floating in and out of sleep so time flew by in a blur.
The good news is: I'm back!
Before I close this entry, I want to share with you another exhibit from the Safety House.
An axel turns this car 360º on its side to simulate an accident situation. The students, including myself, experienced the importance of safety belts as the car turns and we also learnt to climb out as the car is upside-down. I'm thankful I'm agile enough to climb out easily and pray that I will never have to do it in real-life.
I commented that it's a good thing I'm not pregnant, otherwise this would manoeuvre would have been very difficult. Another student, Kevin's eyes grew large. I noticed a child seat in his car so he probably has a family he's concerned about.
Autumn is here and the roads may be icy and slippery before winter arrives. Got to drive carefully.