A Soldier assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, was involved in a PMV-2 mishap 14 September 2020, in Pulaski County, Missouri. The Soldier was operating his motorcycle when he struck a deer. He was evacuated via Life Flight to the nearest trauma center and died 11 days later. Completion of required Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses have not been verified. The specific circumstances of the mishap, including use of personal protective equipment, speed, and alcohol and drug involvement are unknown at this time. The mishap is under investigation.
Since 2016, the Army has lost an average of 28 Soldiers a year to PMV-2 mishaps. This preventable mishap is the 21st PMV-2 fatality of FY20 and below the number of fatalities for the same time period last year.
Think like a hunter:
You know who is rarely surprised by deer on the roads? Hunters, because they know where deer can be expected. If you’re going to ride in deer country you should learn to think like a hunter. Deer populations peak in the spring, but the risk of hitting them on the road peaks in October, November, and December, during the annual rut. Deer are on the move at this time of year. It’s also the time of year when mature adults weigh the most, making collisions that much worse.
Although you can encounter deer at any time of the day or night, they are most active between dusk and midnight, then again at first light. They typically spend the middle of the day in deep cover, but most deer are not really forest dwellers. Learn to identify edge habitat; prime food sources such as standing corn, mast crops like acorns, and orchards; and travel corridors like tree lines, hedgerows, and gullies. Deer are herd animals. If you see one crossing the road in front of you, be alert to others that might be following. If you scare it, it may well reverse course and cross your path again.
Assess and improve your skills:
Always cover the front brake. Practice emergency stops. When you spot a deer ahead, your front brake is a lifesaver, but only if you’re ready, willing, and able to use it right.
Play “What if?” with yourself. When you come across good deer habitat, ask yourself, “What would I do if a deer jumped out from behind that bush?” Mentally rehearse applying the brakes and aiming for a gap with aggressive counter-steering, not target-fixating on the deer.
I’ve heard people claim they increase speed, with the idea that spending less time near the deer limits the opportunity to hit it. In a worst-case scenario, you are better off scrubbing as much speed as possible and hitting them at a slower speed.
Ride for the conditions:
Don’t ignore deer crossing signs, especially at peak times! Wear a helmet and the best protective gear you can afford while operating a motorcycle. Anywhere that you could encounter deer you should also scan and assess the edges of the road. If the grass in the ditch is waist high, you won’t see deer until they step right onto the shoulder. Processing that additional visual information means slowing down for safety.
If you’re riding in a group, increase your following distance and maintain a staggered formation in order to give each rider time and space to brake and take evasive action. If you see deer ahead, slow down and do something (for example, raise an arm or stick out a leg, or flash your brake light) to ensure following riders notice, too. If you pass deer near the road, consider flashing your high beam or honking to warn oncoming drivers and riders.
Although lots of deer are hit on Interstate highways, the per-passenger-mile risk is much lower than the risk on country roads.