Ride to live, but live so you can ride

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The number of people who own and operate motorcycles continues to grow. Consequently, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities is also increasing. While some motorcycle accidents are the result of other drivers' actions, too many are due to poor decisions by the motorcycle rider.

Accident investigations often reveal that motorcycle mishaps are caused by a riders' disregard for laws, lower standards of conduct or a lack of self disciple. These are all preventable.

At Cannon, several mishaps involved vehicles that pulled in front of riders. Another accident resulted when a rider exited an alley and struck a trash truck due to a lack of awareness. Additionally, there were situations when riders had to "lay down" their bikes, because they were going too fast while taking a curve. It would be nice so say that everybody wore the required protective gear, but they did not. As a result, some were injured more seriously than others were.

The adrenaline rush and the feeling of freedom motorcycle riders often seek can make a rider lose focus on how much power a motorcycle has and how powerless a rider truly is when something goes wrong. Unexpected dips in the road, debris in the street and inattentive drives are just a few of the dangers motorcycle riders regularly face. It is not always the young or inexperienced rider who is killed in an accident.

Complacency is an enemy for those who ride on two wheels and there is no margin for error when all that stands between a motorcycle rider and another vehicle, the street or an immovable object, is nothing more than a helmet and the clothes on ones' back. One fatality is too many, but the rate at which people are killed on motorcycles is unacceptable.

You are our most valuable asset. You are an irreplaceable defender of the freedoms we enjoy. The Air Force cannot afford to lose you to a careless, preventable accident.