You probably know that May is Motorcycle Awareness Month – the time of year when we remind drivers to watch for motorcyclists who are back out on the road now that the better weather has returned. But did you know better weather increases another kind of risk for motorcyclists? It’s the risk of an unexpected encounter with roadside wildlife. There are many species of wildlife (big and small) in BC that are a real hazard for motorcyclists and, in order to reduce your risk of finding out first hand just how big a moose really is, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips to keep you, your motorcycle and wildlife safe on BC highways.
If you ride a motorcycle, you should:
- Watch for wildlife crossing signs. These signs are installed in locations where wildlife are known to cross highways.
- Obey speed limits. The faster you are going, the longer it will take to stop.
- Make sure your headlights and windscreens are clean, especially at night. Use your high beams when it’s safe to do so.
- Make sure your tires and brakes are in good shape and working properly.
- Don’t ride under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances, or if you are tired or if you have problems with your vision.
- Watch for groups of wild animals. If a deer runs in front of you, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and keep an eye out for more crossing the highway.
- Stay in the centre lane, if possible. On a multi-lane road, the centre lane is your safest bet for avoiding a collision with a wild animal. This position gives you plenty of space; and in case your motorcycle startles a wild animal, it gives you more time to react if it darts onto the highway. If you need to move out of the way for faster traffic, let them pass and then return to the centre lane.
- Stay the course. If you see a wild animal, brake firmly and calmly and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation into something worse.
- Use extra caution when riding your motorcycle at dawn and dusk in areas where wildlife may be present, as these are the times wildlife move the most.
- If you do ride at night, watch for the reflections of animal eyes. Animal eyes will brightly reflect a motorcycle’s headlight, making them easier to spot.
So, please remember, better weather means more motorcycles AND more wildlife on BC highways. Pay attention and remember you share the road with them all. Do you have any questions on this, or anything else the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure does? Let us know in the comments below.