Motorcycle safety lessons worked on trip

  • Published
  • By Lt. Kruz Oliver
  • 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron
It was Memorial Day weekend and I couldn't wait to get on the road.
To ride my motorcycle, I took extra precautions: changed the oil; lubricated the chain; checked the air pressure; replaced the fluids and ensured all the lights worked properly.

Next, I prepared myself for what would be a long trip, close to 450 miles. I ate a good meal and got to bed early to be well rested.

I woke up around 6 a.m., excited to get on the road and beat the early morning rush. While the bike warmed up, I donned the rest of my gear - helmet, gloves, boots, pants and jacket.

It would be hot by noon, especially in all my gear, but those protective items would be the only thing between me and the asphalt, as I would reach speeds as high as 70 miles per hour. My equipment could reduce injury and possibly save my life.

I also mentally committed to riding defensively and increasing my visibility.

It was finally time to hop onto I-10 East for the next four hours. I planned to stop every 100 miles for gas and adequate breaks.

The I-10 part of my trip was uneventful. Traffic was calm, with just a few drivers on the road. The biggest hazard I encountered was debris in the road. I was thankful for the education I received through my motorcycle safety foundation course, which taught me how to swerve and avoid road hazards.

After four hours on I-10, I approached my exit. After checking my mirrors and blind spots, I got off I-10 and on to I-75 South towards Tampa. There was significantly more traffic on I-75. It was imperative I focused on the road and maintained my situational awareness.

While passing through Gainesville, I noticed a woman in a large sport utility vehicle in the adjacent lane. She seemed distracted between her cell phone conversation and tending to her children in the back seat. I decided to get away from her and the risk she posed.

Before I had the chance to do that, she began to move into my lane, nearly cutting me off. I immediately engaged my horn. The horn proved ineffective and her SUV continued into my lane.

With a split-second to react, I checked my rear view mirror and braked, allowing her to enter the lane to avoid an accident.

My quick reaction and alertness, as well as proper training through a certified motorcycle safety course, prepared me for that situation and allowed me to respond appropriately to avoid injury.