It's not the bike; it's the rider

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Jr.
  • 45 SW/CC

I was deeply troubled by a report I read earlier this week detailing the considerable increases in motorcycle accidents involving our fellow blue-shirters service wide. Despite increased efforts to curtail this tragic trend, the number of accidents and deaths related to motorcycles continues to grow DOD-wide. 

To put it in perspective, 366 servicemembers were injured and 35 lost their lives in motorcycle accidents in 2001. In 2008, however, 474 people were injured including 105 who died; basically a motorcycle death every three days for an entire year. 

Many of these incidents could have been avoided with a little precaution and a lot more common sense. I'm not saying do not ride your bikes; I am saying ride your bikes smart.
All bikers and passengers riding on base and servicemembers driving off base either on or off duty must wear the appropriate and required personal protective equipment. No exceptions. 

Also, I want all my commanders and supervisors to interview each person in their squadron and determine if they are riding a motorcycle in accordance with all safety policies. Again, no exceptions. 

The results are clear that all our people here at Patrick hold themselves to a higher standard when it comes to their work and to accomplishing the mission. Now I am asking you to hold yourselves to that same high standard when it comes time to safety in your off duty time. Think about what you are doing, see the inherent risk, and make the right choice to protect yourself and everyone else around you, on and off the road. 

We can ill afford to lose sight of the big picture here - I'm not just talking motorcycle safety but an internal safety mindset. Don't become a statistic and don't let your fellow Airmen either. If you see something is unsafe or you observe certain trends have developed that need to be stopped, have the courage to do so. Don't just sit idly by; clearly lives depend on it. 

Motorcycles are not necessarily to blame for all these tragic and unnecessary deaths we have seen; a lack of sound judgment and risk management might be. Together we can change these troubling statistics and together we as a military family can save each other from tragedy. It may sound childish but it will work if you simply take care of yourselves and watch out for one another. We're a family; act accordingly. 

Thanks again for all you do.