Head & Eyes

"Watch Out for What is Out There"


In terms of frequency of collisions, deer are by far the most hazardous animals to motorcycle riders.  Deer populations are rising across North American, and as undeveloped land disappears, animals are more likely to be on the move, crossing roadways (even in residential areas) and heading into the paths of motorists with increasing frequency.

Consequently, deer collisions remain frequent, both for driver and motorcyclist.  Unfortunately, riders bare the brunt of the death and injuries caused by deer. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 87.7 percent of motorcycle-deer collision in 2006 resulted in death or injury* - compared to only 2.6 percent of deer collision involving passenger cars.  A startling difference!” (Please see the article for a list of specific ways to deal with deer when riding.)


Fortunately, there aren't as many loose dogs running around as there used to be.  That's a good thing for both dogs and motorcyclists.  But you'll still encounter them occasionally in rural areas, where farm dogs often are free to roam - and protect their master's land!

If you see a loose dog start to chase you, the best strategy is to outsmart it.  Slow down a little, then accelerate.  By varying your seed, you can cause it to "miscalculate" its angle of approach.  If a dog does manage o "catch" you, resist the urge to kick at it, as you’re more likely to cause a crash than you are to successfully fend off the attack.  If you can, accelerate past it and think of this scenario as just one more reason to wear sturdy boots and other protective gear (especially pants)...”


Running over a squirrel, groundhog, or other small animal is not a pleasant experience, but it's preferable to swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic to avoid it!  Better to slow down (if you can do it safely), maintain your course, and treat a pending collision as you would any obstacle in the road: keep the bike pointed straight with a steady throttle, resist the temptation to brake, and rise off the seat slightly to let your legs absorb some of the impact.  Hopefully, you'll miss it; if not, your motorcycle should roll harmlessly over the unlucky creature.

Cattle ("Open Range")

“In some areas, such as the southwestern U.S., you may encounter signs indicating you are in "Open Range."  This means you're likely to encounter cattle roaming freely, with no fences.  Give them the right of way and treat them much the way you would a herd of bison.  Chances are, they're tamer than buffalo, but you never know when they might become suddenly aggressive.”

The main idea is to remain alert to possible obstacles in the road, especially as we start out with some spring riding, and many of these critters are once more on the move.

Remember, if you stare at it, you are sure to run right over it.

*In Wisconsin in 2006, seven people were killed in vehicle-deer collisions; five of them were motorcyclists.

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