Jim’s Tips to Avoid Deer

Full-face Helmet and All the Gear Help Motorcyclist Survive Deer Crash

Tips to Prevent a Deer Crash and Ways to Protect Yourself in the Event of a Crash

It was a long, slow, no-emergency ride that was, in a way, reassuring to me and the family members I was calling. I went into my local hospital’s emergency room, where they helped me out of my gear and put me in a bed. An hour or so later, I was sent for a CAT scan. Sometime after that, the doctor came in and announced that I had six broken ribs, a bruised lung, a broken collarbone, and a broken hand. He went on to state that the hospital didn’t handle my level of trauma and I would have to be moved to the UT Medical Center after all, about 15 miles away from my current location, which meant another ambulance ride as well as bills for both ambulance rides and ERs, not to mention the delay of several hours to receive treatment.

All in all, I spent one night in ICU, three nights in the hospital, had collarbone surgery, spent weeks on painkillers, and underwent months of ongoing physical therapy for my shoulder and collarbone. Seven weeks after the wreck, I started riding a Spyder. After 12 weeks of healing and rehab, I’m still waiting for my shoulder strength to return to the point that I’m confident it won’t affect my ability to handle two wheels; however, I’m a full-face helmet, ATGATT guy, and I am anticipating a full recovery. But I learned some things from this experience and as a result have implemented a couple additional safety measures:

  1.  I will never again ride without CE armor in pants and jacket, which is my usual practice; however, because of the weather, I was wearing a heated jacket under heavy leather, covered by a rain suit. Shoulder armor would have lessened the impact and probably my injury. I was wearing armored pants (Sliders) and had only one two-inch-diameter bruise on my left hip. I now ride wearing the latest Hit-Air inflating jacket.
  2.  The heated gloves I was wearing provided minimal protection. The left one came off, which resulted in a bit of road rash on the back of my hand. The right glove stayed on, but was torn apart. The heated gloves had no hard-knuckle protection, and I broke two bones in my right hand. I think hard-knuckle protection, which all my nonheated gloves have, would have saved me a broken hand. I’m going to put heated grips on my bikes in order to reduce my use of heated gloves.
  3. I’m installing a Hornet deer whistle on my motorcycles. I’m not sure if it really works, but I’ll feel better.
  4. I now carry an inReach SE, which provides emergency service and two-way satellite text communication.
  5. I’ve modified my visual scan while riding in deer areas. I now spend more time scanning the trees along the roadside. In order to do this safely, I’ve slowed down.
  6. If my riding partners have Bluetooth Communicators, I will plan ahead with them to use the word “deer” to indicate seeing a deer likely to run into our path and that upon hearing the word, we would immediately brake (rather than just look for deer, as I did).
  7. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about dealing with EMTs and ambulances after a wreck, or even about what factors to consider in making the decision to call an ambulance or have a buddy ride you to the ER. On the Dragon it’s an hour ride to a hospital. Waiting for an ambulance adds another hour. At what point is it better to get into a car or the back of a pickup and just ride to the hospital? The lesson for me was that if the crash was such that an ambulance is called it’s an emergency. The EMTs have no idea what’s going on internally. Tell them to turn on the lights and sirens and go to the nearest Level I Trauma Center, which is a hospital that can provide the highest level of trauma care available.

Jim's Tips to Avoid Deer (PDF)