Summer is nearly here, which means motorcycle season is well underway in Wisconsin. Nothing beats the thrill and freedom of taking your bike out on the open roads. On the other hand, nothing stifles that joy quicker than an accident.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of motorcycle accidents happen during the warmer months – between May and September, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. As every avid biker is aware, other vehicles pose the biggest risk to your safety. Far too many drivers simply don’t make a habit of watching for motorcycles.

Yet countless other factors can contribute to crashes. Danger sometimes lurks where you least expect it, as illustrated by three recent crashes that made headlines:

  • Last month, a police chief suffered severe injuries when a deer leapt in front of his motorcycle. He managed to avoid the deer but rolled his bike several times in the process. Although the incident happened in Texas, collisions with deer are a constant threat on Wisconsin’s wooded roads, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • In April, a Wisconsin biker was killed in a collision with a cow in Pierce County. Livestock can end up crossing your path on rural roads, so it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Even smaller wildlife – such as raccoons and geese – can flip your bike (or cause other traffic to slam into you if you stop suddenly or swerve).
  • Several Ontario bikers were recently involved in serious crashes with horse-drawn buggies. In Wisconsin, you’re likely to encounter buggies near Amish settlements such as Augusta, Cashton and Dalton. Watch your speed in these areas and give buggies the right of way.

You can’t always predict what will happen on the road. However, you can reduce your chances of making headlines by following safe, responsible biking practices.