October 2014 Safety Thoughts
by Dave Hansen, Co-Safety Officer
Have you, members of your family or someone you know had an accident with a deer? In 2012 there were almost 49,000 deer/vehicle accidents reported in Michigan. Leading the entire state, there were almost 1,700 deer/vehicle accidents in Oakland County. In Michigan, a vehicle-deer crash occurred, on average, every 9.5 minutes.
Last year there were 8 deaths and over 1,300 injuries due to deer/vehicle accidents. Three of those deaths were deer/motorcycle accidents.
Many people swear by deer whistles. These are devices that attach to your vehicle that are supposed to alert deer that youíre approaching, get there attention & stop them from running out in front of you. While we know that, nobodyís figured out how to teach that to the deer; according to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, statistics donít support the claims that deer whistles work. Use them if you want, just donít bet your life on them.
According to the Michigan State Police, in a deer crash situation you should:
∑ Not swerve (most accidents involving deer are actually caused by loss of control while swerving to avoid the deer)
∑ Brake firmly
∑ Hold the steering wheel firmly
∑ Hit the deer
∑ Come to a controlled stop
Obviously these recommendations apply for cars & trucks, but the basics apply for motorcycles as well. I live in rural northwestern Oakland County. We have plenty of deer up my way. I ride lots of miles. Iíve had several deer accident opportunities, but fortunately never hit one. Hereís my thoughts:
∑ Avoid traveling at times of highest deer activity if possible
∑ Be extra alert during times of highest deer activity, not only during dawn/dusk times, but any time after dark
∑ Slow down, donít over-drive your headlight (under 50 mph after dark)
∑ Scan the edges of your headlight pattern for both movement & eyes reflecting
∑ If you see a deer, brake hard but maintain control
∑ Donít run off the road trying to avoid a deer Ė youíll crash for sure that way
∑ If you see one deer, expect to see more Ė they usually travel in groups in single file
∑ Loud pipes Ė despite the controversy I firmly believe loud pipes do save lives by alerting deer of your presence well in advance
∑ If you have one, play your radio loud
Deer become accustomed to vehicle traffic & donít see cars as a threat. Be different (loud pipes, loud radio) & the deer should perceive you differently than the vehicle traffic theyíre accustomed to and donít feel threatened by. No guaranties here. Deer are unpredictable. Just slow down & stay alert. And make sure your hard braking skills are up to the task.