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.


 
 

 

Eliminating stigma: A leadership responsibility

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As a child, a close relative of mine committed suicide. In those days, mental health was only discussed in hushed tones and little support was available. I was shaped by this experience and in my military career, I have tried to create an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their problems and...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer)

Dietary Supplements: Safety still an issue

SAN ANTONIO — Being a Servicemember is as physically demanding, at times, as being a professional athlete. As a result, Servicemembers are especially conscious of physical training requirements and the need to remain fit and ...
 
 

Air Forces Southern hosts first Aeromedical Symposium

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman) Pararescuemen from the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., demonstrate casualty care to dozens of military medical professionals from Latin American nations Aug. 28. Air Forces Southern hosted the Aerospace Medicine Symposium as a multinational key leader engagement designed to strengthen aerospace...
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Brandon Lingle)

D-M pararescuemen hone skills in Bagram’s excess structures

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Pararescuemen from the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, participated in a mission rehearsal where they practiced breaching, clearing, patient care and egress...
 
 

Tuition assistance program changes Oct. 1

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Effective Oct. 1, new changes will go into effect that impact the Air Force Tuition Assistance Program. Personnel using the TA program will now be required to pass all undergraduate courses with a grade of “C” or higher. A grade of “D” will be considered a failing grade and...
 
 

Suicide prevention more than a month-long campaign

WASHINGTON (AFNS)  — All Airmen have a responsibility that lasts much longer than a one-month campaign. This responsibility extends beyond ourselves and includes our work environment, our families, friends, fellow Airmen and our communities. While Suicide Prevention Month is observed across the United States in September, the month-long event is a reminder of everyone’s 24/7,...
 




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