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Thread: High Speed Obstacle Avoidance

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    American Mutt hexkopf's Avatar
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    High Speed Obstacle Avoidance

    I was reading some old posts here about some members who were involved in deer strikes and it got me thinking. I commute through prime deer country on side roads as well as interstates and interstate speeds (+/-). I have been through the MSF course and been riding for over 20 years, still I have never come up with a good way to practice high speed avoidance maneuvers.

    A few years back I hit a nocturnal buck during the rut in PA at about 40 in my pickup and did around 4-5K in damages. I think if I hit a deer going 70 or 80, my chances for survival would be unlikely, even if it was a smaller deer.

    So what to do? I can't go too slow and be at the mercy of the other hazards on the roads like cars and trucks. Can a deer be avoided at highway speeds if seen in time?

    Inquiring minds want to know
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    Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.

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    What I do to keep my avoidance reflexes sharp is when I'm riding on a quiet open/empty road I take one side of the lane, then pretend there is an obstacle at a point further down the road, and avoid it with the "push" counter steer maneuver... I do that again in the other direction... I try to do this at speed (60+) and at least 3 or 4 times.. not sure what else you can do? The hard part isn't steering around it as it is not being caught so off guard that you don't have time to react!

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    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    I'm a recent transplant to Montana and I'm stunned at the number of deer along the highways. I've seen over 100 along a 10 mile stretch of 2 lane road with a speed limit of 70 MPH; it 's pretty scary sometimes. I agree that honing one's avoidance skills is important, but there is also an element of luck / bad luck in play. On more than one instance I found myself passing a deer that is in a ditch 6 feet from me that I did not detect until I was abreast of the critter. Had one of these deer decided to jump in front of me at the last minute I could not have possibly avoided a collision. I do my best to remain alert and scan as I ride but these guys are experts at camouflage and avoiding detection.
    Kevin Huddy
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    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Videos

    If you look on Youtube at all the deer strikes, you will see that there is no way to avoid most of these encounters.

    What I do, when riding in deer country, especially at night, is get behind a large vehicle and stay tight. I had a GMC duallie take one out for me on my way back from Southern Pines 3 years ago. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had taken the hit.
    Jerry Dockery
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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDOCKERY132445 View Post
    .

    What I do, when riding in deer country, especially at night, is get behind a large vehicle and stay tight. I had a GMC duallie take one out for me on my way back from Southern Pines 3 years ago. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had taken the hit.
    That's my method as well...was out later than I cared for last night coming thru known deer area...the dually riding my tail ended up being my fullback for a large portion of ride home. I have slowed at times to get that lead blocker set up
    I don't get too close, but close enough to take advantage of the blocker.
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
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    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R1200RClassic View Post
    What I do to keep my avoidance reflexes sharp is when I'm riding on a quiet open/empty road I take one side of the lane, then pretend there is an obstacle at a point further down the road, and avoid it with the "push" counter steer maneuver... I do that again in the other direction... I try to do this at speed (60+) and at least 3 or 4 times.. not sure what else you can do? The hard part isn't steering around it as it is not being caught so off guard that you don't have time to react!
    This is great practice in any case for all sorts of beyond deer and will definitely try this out - I like it because if practiced enough it should become 'muscle memory' much like we routinely use counter steer in corners to get around sharply. The fractions of seconds saved by not having to think may save us a direct hit on an object. This can work in city traffic too for cages that suddenly invade our lane from the side and brakes are not an option due to traffic following behind.
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  7. #7
    Nickname: Droid
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    I tell my MSF students:
    1. No 1: have good skills. Good braking skills, evasive skills, visual skills, scanning/searching. Be ready, cruising along one handed, feet on the highway pegs all delay your reaction times.
    2. ALWAYS expect deer. In Green Bay we even have them in the city and nearby areas.
    3. ANYPLACE near the road which has trees or cover close to the road, prime locale for deer to cross.
    4. ANYWHERE near the road where water is accessible to deer.
    5. In areas you frequent, try to learn their routes. Other deer strikes on the road may not because of random loner deer wandering about.
    6. ANY time of year which causes them to change their routines. Hunting, rutting, fall harvest, spring tilling/planting (for farm/rural areas). The deer then are more active and on the move, even late at night.
    7. Night riding, slow down, even 5 mph less can have HUGE effects. Extra driving lights which scan down the roadside help.
    8. Lane position: on two-laners with no traffic, hug the center line. On multi lane roads choose the lane furthest from the RH side of the road.

    I have been fortunate to not have to use this, but it is a tactic I have thought of: if a deer is in my path, I brake in a straight line as hard as possible, and I aim for the deer's butt (NASCAR crash logic), on the premise the deer does not want me to hit it and will run away from me. In cars, I have hit deer when I have swerved to avoid them, because they often turn back from where they came.

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    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    A friend was in Missoula in a major retail area, stopped at a traffic light. A deer hit him while he was stopped. Broke some ribs and his new 2010 F650GS was totaled. What skill should he have employed?
    Kevin Huddy
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    "What I do, when riding in deer country, especially at night, is get behind a large vehicle and stay tight."

    May I suggest when using this technique you get REALLY good at emergency braking as people who drive in deer, bear and moose country will often do what they can to stop if they sense an impending wildlife collision. My only experience with warm weather ABS (in a four wheeler) was to avoid a deer. If someone had been following me too close...

    +1 for ANDYVH's suggestions

  10. #10
    Registered User David13's Avatar
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    One said he followed the truck really close. Bad idea.
    The other said he followed the truck, but at a safe distance back. I think that's about the best you can do. The rest is luck.
    In terms of avoidance, I think more have crashed trying to avoid the deer, than actually have died or had very serious injuries from hitting the deer and holding it up (not going down or off the road into a tree, or off a cliff).
    I have passed a lot of deer but only 3 that I remember up very close. In Utah. I was told another BMW rider had hit a deer a few years before, totaled the bike, but had all the gear on which did it's job, and he was not injured.
    So remember, don't avoid the deer, and then crash into a tree.
    dc

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by David13 View Post
    One said he followed the truck really close. Bad idea.
    I agree, I'm not keen on following ANYTHING, much less a truck closely... space is your friend out there IMHO.

  12. #12
    ABC,AMA(LIFE),MOA,RA,IBMW MANICMECHANIC's Avatar
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    My first deer strike happened at 3pm. My second time was ~11am. It can happen at any time. Wearing the gear helps with road rash, but not necessarily with impact injuries. First time around I was merely bruised and battered, second time broke 8 ribs. One just never knows, so plan in advance. Don't get all paranoid to the point that your riding is affected. It's just another obstacle to be avoided. Chances are that a close encounter of the worst kind won't happen, but all you need is that one chance that it will. Then the result is dependent on how prepared you are.
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  13. #13
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBeemer View Post
    A friend was in Missoula in a major retail area, stopped at a traffic light. A deer hit him while he was stopped. Broke some ribs and his new 2010 F650GS was totaled. What skill should he have employed?
    Should have had bike in gear, looking at nothing except rearview mirror!

    Totaled?
    Kent Christensen
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  14. #14
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    The ones you need to worry about are the ones you don't see until it's too late. Trust me, I've experienced it. You won't have much if any time to swerve, brake or react at all. I didn't.

    For the ones you do see in time, get on the brakes hard and don't worry about so much about swerving. Speed is your enemy in any collision and especially in a deer strike. Since a startled deer's actions are hard to predict, your best avoidance technique is to brake as hard as you can and lose speed. Swerving may or may not save you since the deer may actually change direction just as you do. It's a deer's survival instinct that tells it to quickly change direction as it flees to confuse or get away from a predator. Motorcycles however are not like a coyote or wolf, and unfortunately, deer are not programmed to know that the best way to escape from a motorcycle or other vehicle is to run in a straight line off the road. If you get a sense that its deer-O-clock and it looks like your in deer habitat, slowing down even before you see one is probably wise.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
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  15. #15
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    this is pretty much how it happens I guess...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZAjJ-g0UDw

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