Wild and domestic animals caused over 10,000 crashes in Kansas in 2022. Deer and cattle, cause the most animal-related fatal crashes in Kansas.
Avoiding crashes with animals is nearly impossible since they are unpredictable and can be well camouflaged. You can't prevent or control animal interactions and an impact can be fatal.
Be aware of the sorts of places and times animals are more likely to be found, pay extra attention to your surroundings, and slow down and cover the brakes.
Deer crashes are common where bikers like to ride, in the countryside and on winding roads. Deer like wooded areas near water with access to grassy areas, but they can be encountered anywhere, including on city streets.
Deer are seen more at dusk and dawn and they sometimes move out of the trees and into open spaces near roads to avoid insects. If you are getting a lot of bugs on your visor, you should also look out for deer.
Yellow diamond signs with a deer silhouette on them are put up in response to reported deer crashes or deer carcasses found by the road. Deer carcasses by the side of the road are a sign to look out for animals crossing in that area.
Deer tend to move in herds so if you see one, there may be more close by. Slow down and cover the brake. Bikers have the advantage of height and no blind spots improving their chances of seeing deer. The usual visual scanning rules apply. Our chances of seeing a moving target are better in our peripheral vision, so keeping our eyes moving improves our chances of seeing deer.
Swerving to avoid deer is risky. They are capable of changing or reversing direction unexpectedly, or being caught in your headlight and freezing. There's no way to tell what they'll do. Firm braking is your best bet in most cases. Practicing emergency braking improves your braking performance. Slowing down by as little as 5 or 10 miles per hour also cuts feet off the length of your braking distance.
Braking, even if you hit the deer, should reduce the impact. Bikers in deer crashes who walked away attribute their survival to good protective gear. Even in summer, it is important to wear the best gear you have.
In rural areas, you might see cattle guards or cattle grazing freely outside of their fence. If cattle get on the road, you may need to stop suddenly - slow down, cover the brakes, and wear protective gear. Be prepared to meet a herd of sheep or cows being moved along the roadway. The drovers will generally let vehicles by, but be patient and let them do their thing.
There's nothing worse than getting an insect or a spider under your visor or inside your jacket, but the major hassle from critters like this, while you are actually riding, is keeping your eye protection clear. If you see or feel something crawling around, stay calm and pull off the road as far as you can before trying to remove it.
Small animals like squirrels, cats, rabbits, or rodents, sometimes dart across the road. They usually move very fast and don't give you much time to react. If the critter is less than 5 pounds, save yourself the risk of swerving and just ride right over them.
Riders also occasionally hit birds. They will appear without warning and there is no way to avoid them, so wearing good protective gear is the best counter-measure. Large birds like vultures can cause a lot of damage to a bike.