TOTW: Be alert for animals at night

The riding tips on these pages are my personal opinion about matters related to motorcycle riding. They are not the official position of any organization, and are for your consideration only. They are not hard and fast rules, they should not necessarily be applied in all circumstances, and they should not be applied without thinking. Always use your judgement and take all current safety factors into account while riding. You are responsible for your riding, not anyone else (especially me). These tips were originally published by a motorcycle riding course, called “Tip of the Week” (the reason for the TOTW in the titles).

Be alert for animals at night.

This week’s tip is pretty simple, but it’s important.

Riding at night on a motorcycle, you are higher risk of being injured by a collision with wildlife than you are in a car.

First, your vehicle is less conspicuous. It’s smaller, probably quieter (remembering than many animals will react more to the high pitched sound of wind displacement than to the impressive rumble of your exhaust note.) And the lights are fewer and dimmer than on a car.

Second, the consequences of an impact are much greater. Hitting a moose is a problem in any vehicle; but hitting a turtle can cause a bike to crash while a car will barely notice.

Riding at night is an enjoyable experience, but you must keep several factors in mind.

  • Ensure you are not riding faster than your reaction distance. If you can’t see as far ahead as it would take you to stop, you’re going too fast.
  • If you see an animal, slow down. They are often in pairs so make sure you are past the area before resuming your cruising. Better safe than sorry at night.
  • Slow for road-kill. How many times have you seen the mate of a porcupine or raccoon dead near its mate? When you first see what may be a road kill, slow down, just in case.
  • It’s easy to be lulled by the peace and quiet. You must concentrate to stay sharp.
  • You should keep your headlight and your visor clean, and know where your horn is.
  • If you’re drowsy, rest. Coffee is no alternative to rest, and fatigue will lead to accidents.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.