How to Avoid Deer

Essential tips for motorcycle riders to avoid deer and what to do if a deer collision is unavoidable.

How to Avoid Deer and Wildlife While Riding a Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle on winding open roads is some of the best riding there is. However, it’s important to stay aware of potential hazards, especially when sharing the road with wildlife, such as deer. Boundless Rider wants to share some essential tips for motorcycle riders to avoid deer and what to do if a deer collision is unavoidable.

  • Understand Deer Behavior: Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, so exercise extra caution during these times. They often travel in groups, so if you see one deer near the road, there’s a good chance there are more nearby. Familiarize yourself with the areas that have a high deer population, such as wooded areas, farmlands, and roadsides near water sources. Look for matted trails, as these are common paths deer and wildlife are taking in wooded areas. 
  • Stay Alert and Scan the Road: Maintain a heightened sense of awareness while riding. Continuously scan the road ahead and use your peripheral vision to spot any movement along the roadside. Pay close attention to the shoulder area and areas near the woods where deer may emerge. Rustling in high grass and bushes is usually a giveaway when a deer is nearby.
  • Reduce Speed: Maintain a speed appropriate for the road conditions and be prepared to slow down or stop quickly if necessary. Slowing down gives you more time to react to sudden deer movements and allows you to navigate the situation safely. Just like riding in bad weather, cautious riding can give you more of a reaction time.
  • Use Headlights and High Beams: Keep your headlights on at all times, even during daylight, to increase your visibility to deer and other motorists. When riding at night, use your high beams whenever possible to enhance your field of vision. However, make sure to dim them when approaching oncoming traffic. Deer sometimes freeze when a light is shined on them – the phrase, a deer in headlights comes to mind! Be cautious and slow your speed.  
  • Wear Reflective Gear: Wearing reflective clothing and accessories can make you more visible to both deer and other drivers. Invest in a high-visibility helmet, jacket, and gloves to increase your chances of being seen, especially in low-light conditions. 
  • Use Your Horn: If you spot a deer near the road, honk your horn to alert it, as well as other animals to your presence. This sudden noise may startle them and cause them to retreat into the woods rather than darting across the road. This would also be a great time to alert other drivers on the road if deer are nearby. There are anti-deer noise whistles that can be installed on a motorcycle, but they may not always work. 
  • Avoid Swerving: If you encounter a deer in your path, resist the urge to swerve abruptly to avoid it. Instead, slow down and brake firmly while maintaining control of your motorcycle. Swerving can increase the risk of losing control and colliding with other objects or vehicles. This works in the same way if a dog or other wildlife is running towards you. As you approach the animal, slow down until you are able to break away safely and accelerate away from the danger. 

What to Do If You Hit a Deer with a Motorcycle

  • Stay Calm and Pull Over: After a collision with a deer, try to remain calm and assess your situation. Pull over to a safe location off the road if possible, using caution to avoid traffic hazards. If the motorcycle is damaged to a point that it is leaking gas or is unsafe to ride, get off the motorcycle and try to clear the area and alert any oncoming traffic. 
  • Check for Injuries: Check yourself for any injuries and seek medical attention if necessary. Adrenaline may mask pain or discomfort, so it’s crucial to evaluate your condition carefully. If you are bleeding, apply pressure. Keep any wounds clean to avoid infection. Deer antlers are very sharp. 
  • Contact Emergency Services: If you, or anyone else involved in the accident, requires medical assistance, or if there is significant damage to your motorcycle, call 911 immediately. They can dispatch the necessary help and document the incident. If you have roadside assistance coverage as part of your insurance policy, they may be able help tow the motorcycle away if it is unable to be ridden. 
  • Document the Incident: Take pictures or video of the scene, including any damage to your motorcycle and the surrounding area. This documentation can be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Record yourself recounting the incident. This can be helpful to be able to provide important details that may be forgotten over time.
  • Report the Accident: Inform the local authorities about the incident, especially if there are any hazards on the road or if the deer needs assistance. They can alert other motorists and arrange for the removal of the animal if necessary. Call your insurance and explain what happened. If you are unaware of the coverage your policy has, ask an agent to explain them to you. Comprehensive coverage is typically what applies in accidents involving animals, but depending on the situation, collision coverage may apply.

Riding a motorcycle requires caution to your surroundings, especially when it comes to potential encounters with deer. By understanding deer behavior, staying alert, and following the safety tips mentioned, you should be able to enjoy a safe ride in most situations. Never ride under the influence, as it will impair your judgment and decrease your reaction time, particularly in a situation where all of your attention is needed like avoiding wildlife. 

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