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Risk vs reward

Motorcycle safety graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Robert Scott)

Motorcycle safety graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Robert Scott)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

As the weather improves, there’s no surprise that many of our Airmen who ride motorcycles have been out more. Therefore, it’s crucial to remember the importance of motorcycle safety while riding.

In April 2021, two Airmen from Travis Air Force Base lost their lives because of a motorcycle accident. Both of these accidents were caused by the other drivers, not the motorcycle riders. Furthermore, the Department of the Air Force has experienced 15 motorcycle related deaths since March 1, 2020, making motorcycle training more valuable than ever.

“Out of the thousands of people trained in motorcycle safety, I have only met five who’ve never been in a motorcycle accident,” said James Middleton, 9th Reconnaissance Wing safety manager.

Although the actions of others on the road cannot be controlled, yours can. It’s  important to consider the cost of riding a motorcycle and to ensure you as the rider are taking the proper steps to maximize your safety. Your safety is your responsibility.

Certain things you can do for your safety include motorcycle training, wearing the proper personal protective equipment like a helmet and gloves, knowing the route you will be driving on and if possible riding in a group.

“If you are in a car, there’s forgiveness, but in a motorcycle there is no forgiveness,” Middleton said.

An Airman here at Beale sadly knows about this experience far too well. Airman 1st Class Jason Cochran, 9th Reconnaissance Wing photojournalist, tragically lost his brother to a motorcycle accident last year.

“Motorcycle riding is a high-risk, high-reward activity, so if you are going to do it be smart about it,” Cochran said. “The exponential increase in danger that not wearing a helmet or going excessively fast might be thrilling, but makes it more likely that your family will end up burying you. My family still rides dirt bikes and goes on road bike trips, because it truly is a great time, but I don't think it will ever really be the same.”

Whenever you get on your motorcycle, just think about how you want to get home to your loved ones. Airmen, let this be the motivation you need to do your part in staying safe while you are riding because although you are making it back to them today, not everyone is.