NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Motorcycle safety, like most things, is a state of mind. It’s a culture cultivated by continual re-evaluation of your surroundings, maintaining situational awareness and being proactive in identifying potential hazards that may impact your safety, as well as the safety of other occupants of the road.
One of the best tips I can give a motorcycle rider is to keep your head on a swivel and your eyes constantly scanning for those potential hazards. Those hazards can come in many forms, from objects in the road to vehicles pulling out in front of you or oncoming traffic turning left in front of you. If you see these hazards early enough, you can slow down and plan on what you can do to avoid an unwanted situation.
Of course, this all assumes you are ready, willing, and able to be on the road on a motorcycle in the first place. By that, I mean you’ve taken the required Motorcycle Safety Foundation Beginner Rider Course and are properly licensed. Even if you aren’t active duty and don’t require it, the BRC is a great class to have experienced. And let’s not forget the Experienced Rider Course, to keep those riding skills honed.
Once properly trained and licensed, all new Air Force riders must find a mentor who will get them used to their new bikes, local conditions, and take them on mentor rides. The mentor’s job is critical, for he or she will shape the new rider’s attitude towards riding in general and safety in particular. Those who are tasked to be mentors, should take the responsibilities very seriously.
The most important piece of advice I can give to any motorcyclist, whether new or experienced is to never ride beyond your ability. When we’re young we believe ourselves to be invincible and that nothing can hurt us. When we’re older, sometimes we think we know it all and have experienced it all. In both cases, we’re mistaken, because we’re ever evolving creatures. We can always learn something if we leave ourselves open and receptive.
Motorcycling is a great and fun way to experience the open road. I encourage anyone with an interest in biking to talk to someone who rides. If you see someone with a patch on, stop him or her and ask about the club and riding. He or she will be glad to share his or her love of biking with you.