Fall is a beautiful time to ride a motorcycle. Each year, Mother Nature works her magic changing the leaves, leading to spectacular views. However, it’s also mating season for deer, which can lead to dangerous driving situations. Hitting a deer with a car can cause significant damage. Hitting a deer with a motorcycle can be deadly.
The best way to stay safe is to be overly cautious and follow these safety tips.
1. Watch for the herd. If you see a deer standing in the middle of the road, it’s likely there are more to follow. Slow down immediately and look off to the side. If there are more deer present, stop and let them safely pass.
2. Enroll in an advanced driving school. While you may be a skilled driver under normal conditions, adverse conditions may put you to the test. A driving school offers expert training as well as a safe environment to practice different techniques, such as emergency braking. If you live in or near Wisconsin, Road America is a great facility that offers several different driving schools. If you don’t, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for other options.
3. Be on the lookout for deer crossing signs. Adhering to deer crossing signs is another way to stay safe. They may be posted in places where accidents have frequently occurred or near a food source. If you see a sign, slow down, and keep your hand over the brake. Using your front brake quickly and efficiently can be a lifesaver.
4. Maintain proper following distance. Whether you’re following a car, or riding in a group, proper following distance is key. While this may seem like a no-brainer, aggressive driving can put you in a bad situation. Always maintain a good distance to allow for braking or avoidance maneuvers.
5. Consider deer whistles. Deer whistles were created in the seventies under the premise that when blown, deer’s sensitive hearing would prevent them for crossing a road or cause them to alter their path. While there are mixed reviews about whether deer whistles work, why not give them a try. They’re inexpensive and can be easily mounted on your motorcycle. Just don’t rely on it as your only means of defense. Following all the safety tips in this blog is the best way to stay safe.
6. Reduce your speed. While it may be fun to drive fast or race a friend, we all know that speed kills. It’s especially dangerous at night. Driving too fast can cause you to over drive your headlights. Over driving your headlights can make it very difficult to see what’s ahead of you. If you can’t see what’s ahead of you, how can you drive defensively?
7. Avoid swerving. When an animal or another object is in the road, it may feel intuitive to swerve. Doing so can put you into the path of an oncoming car or a tree. The best technique is to aggressively brake to avoid hitting the object. If you can’t stop in time, hitting the object may still be safer than swerving.
8. Ride strategically. If riding with a group, make sure to maintain appropriate spacing. This way if another rider must make avoidance maneuvers, you have enough time to do the same. A group pileup could lead to significant injuries. Lastly, if you see deer just standing in the road, consider flickering your headlight between low and high beam or honking your horn. Hopefully they’ll move as you approach them.
9. Wear the appropriate safety gear. Always wear the appropriate gear when riding. While it may feel better not wearing a helmet, it’s your best defense against serious injury should an accident occur.
10. Avoid an injured animal. If you hit an animal, you may want to check on it. It’s best to stay away from it until help arrives. An injured animal can be unpredictable.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.