Motorcycles vs Wildlife: Tips on Encountering Animals at 45-MPH!
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
By Gabriel Jose Carrera, aka Attorney That Rides!
We all have heard the horror stories of our friends and others that have encountered deer at reasonable to high riding speeds. I personally have friends that have hit deer and although I never hit a deer on a motorcycle I was attacked by an elk that almost made me wipe out at 35 MPH.
I have rode halfway around the world, at night, at day, and I have seen the different types of wildlife from lamas to deer to owls to mooses. I heard all the drinking war stories of friends and have visited them afterwards injured after surviving splitting a deer in half. I guess the biggest peeve I have is why are you driving down a dark two lane narrow country road near heavey vegetative terrain at 60+ MPH? In my opinion you asking for trouble by rolling the dice.
If you know there is wildlife there is no reason to speed at night in deer territory. Some folks in competitions like the Iron Butt Rallys or the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge speed for a certificate or award. They compete against others motorcyclists so at night that competitive instinct says to you: pull back on that throttle to win! How many minutes are you actually gaining by speeding up? Not much and the danger of bodily injury is increased.
I know a lot of Long Distance Endurance riders read my articles and they all compete in one rally or another. The question is a trophy or an award worth thousands in medical bills and your motorcycle getting trashed in the middle of nowhere? It’s not and this is my two cents on nagging in your ear to slow down at night. The smart way to gain mileage on your tour or rally or challenge is to eat up those miles during the day. I have been known to speed a few times evidenced by traffic citations during the day time. There is no reason to go above the posted speed limit in dangerously high deer country.
We have all seen the different deer horns that are advertised to avoid deers hitting your vehicle. Most are cheap plastic whistles or few of the high end can be electric. Some have said its only a good luck charm sorta like hanging that voodoo bell under your bike. For those that have dropped their bikes how is that voodoo bell doing for ya? Below you will find a guy who actually took the time to test out those deer whistles. I play it safe regardless and have two glued on my Road Glide fender just in case.
One of the best advices that I heard about hitting a deer is quite counter-intuitive. I am told to pull back on the throttle and to NOT hit the brakes. The reasoning behind this is because the forward force of the bike on your forks is forward and slightly upwards. If you come to a deer braking your front end is in a downward force of motion. If you hit the deer in a downward force you are more likely to spill your bike then stay up on it. If you hit the ground and you do not have the proper riding gear/wear then you body is toast. So the way to go is give it gas to gain the forward force to avoid going down. It’s not a 100% guarantee but it could save your life in some circumstances.
Bottom line is to ride your road by calculating the risks. You may be riding in the woods for 20-minutes and then vear off into the interstate. By the way I have ridden I-10 in Florida and texas and have seen ten-point-deer crossing the interstate. I dont believe in the sticky plastic whistles but I have them on my bike JUST IN CASE! Lastly wear some gear to protect yourself should you go down. If you choose the right helmet dump the DOT helmets and get the SNELL approved helmets that are more expensive but will save your life in high impacts! Ride safe and ride smart.