Deer and motorcycles just don’t mix

A motorcyclist survives a collision with a deer.

He hit the deer at 70 MPH and was thrown over his handlebars and slid 100 yards… a football field.

He wasn’t able to walk away — he fractured his ankle — but that’s really the worst of things for him. Why did he survive?

The back of his heavy duty protective jacket was completely shredded, while the road cut deep grooves into the side of his helmet.

He was wearing gear. Proper heavy jacket, and a full-face helmet. I don’t know if he was wearing any protective pants or gloves, but likely so.

This is why I’m a fan of ATGATT — All The Gear All The Time.

When you ride in a car, you’ve got a giant steel cage to protect you. When you ride on your motorcycle, you have nothing to protect you except for your riding gear.

I happened upon a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago, before police and EMT arrived. Guy and his girlfriend were thrown off their Harley when a car pulled out in front of them from a side-road. They were pretty messed up, I helped on the scene with first aid, and after EMTs arrived I left. I assume they survived. But based upon what I saw, if they had at least helmets on — even DOT-approved half-helmets — they would have fared a lot better.

I’ve gone down. I’m glad I had gear else I would have been hurting afterwards. The gear took the brunt and I had little more than sore muscles and a bruised ego.

I totally understand not wanting to wear gear. It’s a pain to suit up. It’s bulky. It’s not always comfortable. It can be restraining. And damnit, it’s just not as free! It feels awesome to ride without any gear. Especially here in Texas where there’s a long riding season, and it’s hot… very hot… and gear doesn’t always help with that. So I do understand.

And while the best way to avoid going down is to ride defensively and conservatively, sometimes things just come out at you and there’s nothing you can do… like hit a deer. There’s so many whitetails here in Texas that when I’m riding on the backroads in the mornings, I’m always nervous about deer. I’ve encountered a lot of deer as I’ve been riding, but thankfully no close calls. I’ve hit a couple of birds (they were in the road eating something, didn’t get off fast enough, one bounced off my knee and the other off my windshield). I had a very close encounter with a buzzard on the side of the road that decided taking off right in front of me would be smart… you don’t realize how big those guys are until they’re right upon you. Point is, shit happens.

How does the motorcycle saying go? There’s two kinds of riders: those who have gone down, and those who haven’t gone down yet. It’s not “if” you’ll go down, it’s “when”.

To wear gear or not is a personal choice. It can’t stop everything, but it can prevent a lot of things. My personal choice is ATGATT.

10 thoughts on “Deer and motorcycles just don’t mix

  1. All The Gear All The Time

    I like that. I wear my seat belt in my cage all the time not because it is the law but because I saw (at an early age) what can happen if you don’t.

    21 years old and was in North Carolina, first one on the scene after a farm truck t-boned a Toyota Corolla.

    Lady wasn’t wearing her seat belt and was spun into the passenger side door. Later follow up confirmed what I thought, she survived but was a quadriplegic.

    I don’t think it should be a law to wear gear -bike or not — but differently think it is a good idea.

    Also All The Gear All The Time — another good way of remembering to always carry a firearm.

    As you say “Shit Happens”

    • Same here. I don’t wear gear because I’m told to or forced to, I wear it because I know someday it’s going to save my skin — literally.

      Plus, doing so helps on a more mundane level. For instance, I learned that the seat belt holding you in helps with driving because now you’re held in instead of having to hold yourself in. For instance, when taking turns really fast. 🙂 On the motorcycle, the gear helps with things like avoiding bugs in the teeth, rocks hitting your fingers, and just keeping you more protected and comfortable vs. the environment.

  2. In my crash back in ’97 I trashed a complete set of Vanson Leathers and my helmet. The only open skin on me was where the leather had peeled up along the front of my boot and reached my leg. Absolutely shredded the back of my leathers from L hip to R shoulder and the back of my helmet was worn through the outer shell.

    Too bad I didn’t have a turtle back back then, probably would have saved the broken back. But I had the technology of the time and it certainly saved my hide.
    People had asked why I wore a complete set of leathers even in the summer. That’s why, despite it being middle of June, I had all my gear on and it very definitely saved my life.

    • I didn’t realize it had shredded things so wow. Wow.

      Yet another testimony for why ATGATT is good.

      But in the end, it’s all a matter of how you choose to value and live your life. I know you’re the kind that puts value on and in your life.

      • So, not only did the helmet shred the back but it broke the face piece to the point that when I went to pull my helmet, it came off.

        I really don’t remember anything after looking at the moron in through the windshield before he hit me, then complaining to the nurse that my butt hurt and then realizing I couldn’t feel anything below the nipple line (that was a day later in the ICU). Took a few days to get that back then spent the next six months in various braces from the complete shell hips to neck and cast on the leg to a walking boot and strap on back brace and cane.

        Somewhere around I have a picture sitting a recliner with the turtle shell on and leg brace and dad standing behind me showing off his fresh scar from his colon cancer. That was n exciting summer. NOT!

  3. in 2001 i hit a log in road while on my Harley and went over the handle bars at 60mph. don’t remember anything from the accident. i had a DOT halfshell, thin leather gloves, leather vest, jeans, boots, t-shirt, sweatshirt. other than a thicker jacket in cooler weather and sometimes chaps, that was the limit for me on gear.

    btw, i walked out of the ER 5 hours later with some minor road rash, sprained middle finger, whiplash, holes in my knees where they hit the handlebars as i was coming off of the bike and a concussion. i fared pretty well. had another bike in 2 weeks and was back on the road again.

  4. Had a friend in Idaho who was on a dirt road at night on a motorcycle when he hit a mulie. He wasn’t wearing any protective clothing.
    He was tossed into a barb wire fence and got wrapped up in it and got badly battered. After untangling himself from the barb wire, he had to ride the motorcycle several miles into town, though in severe pain. When he got to town and to medical help, he had slashes requiring over 50 stitches, a broken wrist, a broken nose, and three cracked ribs. I can only imagine how painful those ribs and the wrist were on a bumpy dirt road.

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