Health & Safety

May 30, 2013

Live to ride, ride to live another day

Airman 1st Class Alexander W. Riedel
Air Force News Service

FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) —  Some memories are Kodak moments – the kind you want to recall again and again. Others are more sinister, hanging around unwanted, as a reminder of life’s darker side.

One such ominous memory combines one of my greatest joys and my greatest fear into a valuable life lesson.

On a beautiful, warm summer evening, the alarm bell rang at the fire-station where I volunteered during college. Within a few minutes, my crew and I arrived at the scene of a downtown motorcycle accident.

A lifeless body lay several feet away from the wreckage. After a collision with a car, only a mangled ball of iron was left of the motorcycle. The rider was dead on arrival, while the driver of the car walked away unharmed.

Despite this experience, last year I decided to get a motorcycle. It is the best way to travel on a summer day, whisking through traffic while enjoying easy parking at my destination. For me, it is the only true way to explore America’s highways–in a community of riders, who greet each other like friends, even in the big cities.

Knowing full well that my decision brought inherent risks, I applied through the base for a certified new rider’s course. I relearned basic bike operation, traffic rules and safety techniques that would give me a safe start on a machine more than three times my own body weight.

And it was time well spent: While road signs and laws translate directly for motorcyclists, the actual dynamics of the road change dramatically for bikers: Riding a motorcycle places you low on the totem pole of road safety.

Because automobile drivers often have no idea how fast motorcycles travel, they misestimate their approach or breaking distances. Very often drivers don’t even see riders until it’s too late. Add to that drivers distracted by texting, cell phone conversations or other disruptions, and the possibility of an accident rises drastically. As much as possible, I try to increase my personal safety by anticipating others’ actions and making sure that drivers have noticed me before I enter intersections or change lanes.

Parity on the road means that motorcycle riders are responsible for their own actions. At times bikers may overestimate their riding skills and underestimate the bike’s power. Adherence to speed limits and traffic rules can go a long way toward staying within a “safe zone.”

Finally, before I “hit the road,” I make sure I am prepared so that I could literally hit the road with little or no consequence. Before I trade the protection of a car for the joy of open-air riding–with only inches between me and the pavement–I make sure I’m wearing complete head-to-toe gear. I have seen first-hand that “road rash” is an understatement.

I do not regret my decision to ride. Yet, I always remember the rider who didn’t survive. I carry the memory with me every time I clasp the chinstrap of my helmet–knowing that I want to enjoy my life on two wheels and ride so I can live another day. I hope you do the same, and greet me when we pass each other on the open road.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: Embarking on a journey toward a promising future

Colonel Alex Voigt has only been serving as the Air Forces Southern Chilean Liaison Officer at Davis-Monthan for a couple of months, but with a history of Chilean LNOs reaching the rank of general and one even going on to serve...
 
 

D-M commander mixes it up with ‘The Morning Blend’

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey) U.S. Air Force Col. James P. Meger, 355th Fighter Wing commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., talks with TV hosts, Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, during a live recording of “The Morning Blend” at KGUN9 Studio, Tucson, Nov. 24. Meger went on the show to...
 
 

Let’s talk turkey: Prepare the perfect bird this holiday season

Whether having a big group over to share the Thanksgiving festivities or it’s just you and the Family, the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey. Guests will graze around the appetizer table careful not to fill their bellies in anticipation of the plump, juicy turkey and all the fixin’s. Most people aren’t world-renowned...
 

 
DoD

New allotment rule protects troops from lending scams

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed a policy change in new paycheck allotments to prevent unscrupulous commercial lenders from taking advantage of troops and their families, Pentagon officials said Nov. 21. According to a Defense Department news release, effective Jan. 1, 2015, the change in DOD’s financial management regulation will prohibit service...
 
 

Officials highlight health, wellness resources for Military Families

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 – As efforts continue to strengthen service members and their families, Pentagon officials held a Bloggers Roundtable to highlight the myriad resources available to tackle the unique military and transitional challenges those who serve may face. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams, Marine Corps...
 
 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin