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Thread: Deer Strike: To swerve or not to swerve

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    Daily Rider jurgen's Avatar
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    Deer Strike: To swerve or not to swerve

    A friend hit a deer at high speed. He survived with a few broken ribs. No road rash thanks to ATGATT. He will be OK. Lucky man.
    He told me he tried to keep the bike straight prior to impact rather than trying to swerve to avoid the deer. Going for a straight impact would reduce the chance of injury, and most often the deer would run away prior to impact. Is that correct? What do the wise men and women in this forum say?
    J?rgen
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    2 kids = 1 sidecar angysdad's Avatar
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    I am curious as to what people's opinions will be on this . I live in deer country, and have never seen a deer do the same thing twice. I do not know if there is a 'hard and fat' rule.
    My best advice...stay alert and hope it is not a moose!
    Big D
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    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Too many variables, deer move fast and are unpredictable, but I would try to avoid IF I felt I could swerve and remain on the pavement, first defense would be to test the ABS with 100% braking NOW!!

    I don't think I would risk going off the road, the landing probably would not be as soft as the deer. But in an Oh Crap situation, all the best plans go out the window as panic takes over.

    And as stated above the BEST defense is stat alert, slow down and don't ride in the period of 1 hour before and after sunrise/sunset. I heard something like 90% of deer strikes are in those times.

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    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    Too many variables, deer move fast and are unpredictable, but I would try to avoid IF I felt I could swerve and remain on the pavement, first defense would be to test the ABS with 100% braking NOW!!

    I don't think I would risk going off the road, the landing probably would not be as soft as the deer. But in an Oh Crap situation, all the best plans go out the window as panic takes over.

    And as stated above the BEST defense is stat alert, slow down and don't ride in the period of 1 hour before and after sunrise/sunset. I heard something like 90% of deer strikes are in those times.
    Pretty good advice.

    Spent my whole life motoring around in 'deer country,' so here's a few suggestions:

    1) Before you hit the deer, hit the brakes - HARD! Get on them (ABS a godsend at this moment) and get that bike slowed down as fast as you can - even if you cannot avoid the collison, make it a 30 MPH hit raher than 65.

    2) Duck! Lay down on the tank just prior to contact with a large animal - they often catapult over the bike and the windshield does little to blunt the energy of the beast. Sitting upright, as if a 200 lb. animal is going to bounce off of you, rarely has good results.

    3) Stay on the roadway - often evasive maneuvering results in secondary collisions with trees, fence posts, barbed wire or guardrails and ends up being worse than those dang forest rats. But if not severely injured post-collision, consider rolling off to the shoulder (or median) ASAP after the drama has subsided, lest an unaware following motorist uses you as a speed bump.

    4) ATGATT


    But pffog's advice to stay alert and avoid probable times of interaction is the best.

    Dusk and dawn - premo moments for deer activity, so slow down if you must oeprate within an hour either way of those times.

    Here's a little advice I pass on to BRC students:

    When operating during high-conflict times of deer activity on interstates, ride in the passing lane - deer rarely ambush you from the median - they come flying out of the woods. Put some distance between the treeline and you - gives your peripheral vision more time to assist you.

    Tuck in close behind a semi rig in the dark - let the 18-wheeler blaze a path thru deer country for you.

    Install additional driving lights on your motorcycle - the more ilumination, the better.

    Good luck and may we all ride safe this summer.
    Last edited by Greenwald; 06-06-2010 at 01:13 PM.
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Another memeber of the "live in deer & free ranging cattle country"

    Good advice so far...and yes, no two deer or young cows act the same. If you see one...there are most likely more behind and coming!
    If you see them prior and can make a move, it's a plus. I aim at their backside while slowing down as much as I can. I try not to swerve anymore...bad things happen it seems. As mentioned as well...best laid plans often get overidden by adrenalin. I have swerved in a 3/4 ton pickup with a massive grill guard and asked myself later WTF? The next time it was hard braking and knocking two off the road...much better results...for me anyways.


    My last encounter on the bike happened at 1PM on a sunny day and I was broadsided with 0 warning on my sidecase...changed my angle and into the ditch I went in a curve. That 10% average caught me.

    Ambushes are hard to control We typically park at the times mentioned...and if caught out at dusk/dark...I light it up, slow down and expect to see wildlife...and typically do. I find a lead rabbit vehicle if possible and stay close. Has helped twice in near misses in other states. Not so good for the rabbit car however.
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    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    If you have time to react at all ( I didn't) brake as hard as possible to avoid or minimise the impact. No way can you predict what an animal will do, so the best option is to get rid of speed and hope for the best.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
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    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenwald View Post
    Pretty good advice.




    Tuck in close behind a semi rig in the dark - let the 18-wheeler blaze a path thru deer country for you.

    .
    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to advise here. If it's following so close that you are out of the tractor trailers mirrors, without going into details, it's very dangerous and the driver of the truck is going to be very unhappy.
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
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    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to advise here. If it's following so close that you are out of the tractor trailers mirrors, without going into details, it's very dangerous and the driver of the truck is going to be very unhappy.
    Plus when that deer that just rolled under his front bumper comes whipping out from under his trailer spinning and flailing bits of flesh in all directions there is not much time to react, maybe better then hitting it, but could still be deadly.

  9. #9
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    A J Foyt would probably say "aim for the accident, because by the time you get there it will be somewhere else."

    I like horn, flash, stop. Not so much "swerve." Mostly "stop," i.e. hit the brakes.

    Depends on circumstances a lot of course, but it doesn't seem an "improvement" to swerve into oncoming traffic or off a cliff or into a tree.
    Kent Christensen
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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    Plus when that deer that just rolled under his front bumper comes whipping out from under his trailer spinning and flailing bits of flesh in all directions there is not much time to react, maybe better then hitting it, but could still be deadly.
    I follow...maybe close is a relative term... I just put something larger in the lead...but leave enough space for a reaction move. the cars that hit one in front of me were prob at least 6 seconds ahead of me...but, I try not to be out during those hours anymore anyways...it's not city driving!
    I worry more about 18 wheeler tire gators coming my way than deer parts.
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
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  11. #11
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to advise here. If it's following so close that you are out of the tractor trailers mirrors, without going into details, it's very dangerous and the driver of the truck is going to be very unhappy.
    In these parts, following too close behind a large rig in the daytime will get the driver initiating a 'fish-tail' (wagging of the trailer) - his way of saying "You're too close - back off some, buddy!"

    But in the dark, I have always been able to close to a minimal distance (still visible in his/her mirrors) and have never been 'fish-tailed' - maybe a regional courtesy in the midwest, but the drivers seem to know what we motorcyclists are counting on.

    If this seems too risky in your neck of the woods, by all means substitute what works.

    Safe Riding!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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    ABC,AMA(LIFE),MOA,RA,IBMW MANICMECHANIC's Avatar
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    Interesting question. How much time do you have? Is it a lone deer or are there others? What is the traffic situation? What kind of road? How is the weather? I know, lots of questions. Having killed a couple deer and the bikes I was riding at the time, I don't have a definitive answer. You can always become so paranoid that you eventually quit riding, that almost certainly guarantees not having a deer strike. If that is not an acceptable alternative, then just keep riding, be aware of your surroundings, and hope for the best. If you do have an encounter, there is no way to really predict what the critter will do. Just recently, on another forum, there was the report of an individual killed when the timing was right, the deer jumped across the road and the rider ran into the deer. Last week not far from here occured a deer strike. Rider was killed by the deer, his passenger was killed after being thrown from the bike and hit by a car. What are the chances? Like a lot of things in life, you just do the best you can.
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    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    We just had a young rider killed last week, after he swerved, but still hit a deer, then a telephone pole. It was 9:30 am so full light.

  14. #14
    Registered User rmarkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenwald View Post
    [I]
    1) Before you hit the deer, hit the brakes - HARD! Get on them (ABS a godsend at this moment) and get that bike slowed down as fast as you can - even if you cannot avoid the collison, make it a 30 MPH hit raher than 65.
    Agree. Don't even think about evasive tactics - just jump on the brakes immediately with all you've got, keep the bike upright - even headed straight for the deer, dog, whatever. They are so unpredictable that you may swerve right into them.
    Twinkling little lights on the tree line at night are your warning - get the speed down! Powerful (preferably HID) lights will give you more time - every fraction of a second counts.
    Mark

    "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most" Mark Twain

  15. #15
    Douglas Williams
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    We just had a young rider killed last week, after he swerved, but still hit a deer, then a telephone pole. It was 9:30 am so full light.
    In the last 18 months, my wife and I have each hit a deer. In both cases, the car was totaled. The patrolman who responded to me said he sees more injuries when the vehicle swerves to avoid the deer than when it just brakes and holds course. I think either of our accidents could have been fatal if we had been on bikes. My wife's deer had a rack and slid up the hood onto her windshield. My deer crunched the front of my Volvo S40 causing airbag deployment. That deer ended up 50 feet away, DOA. Seeing what a deer can do to a car, if on a bike, I think I would try to avoid the collision. That's only if you get the opportunity. Those creatures are fast. I saw mine 2 seconds before collision, 4:00 pm on a sunny afternoon. Honestly ,though, I don't think there is a correct answer.
    Sent from a Galaxy, far, far away

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