Keep your head on a swivel

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Before riding, be sure to check the T-CLOCK: tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis and kickstand. (U.S. Air Force graphic illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer/Released)

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Before riding, be sure to check the T-CLOCK: tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis and kickstand. (U.S. Air Force graphic illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer/Released)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- I started riding motorcycles when I was 15. Starting on dirt bikes, working to an old Suzuki and on to my current bike, a red Victory Vegas. I've ridden everywhere from Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, the Bahamas on to most recently, Texas. I've noticed one common problem with all these places. I hate modern cars and trucks.

Before you start calling me old fashion and unable to change, let me explain. Think about your first car, or the oldest car you've owned. The oldest car I've owned was a 1972 GMC truck. It was drafty. It was loud. You could barely hear the engine over the road noise. Now, think about your car that's sitting in the parking lot right now. If it has been made in the past 10 years, it probably has a few "bells and whistles" compared to my old GMC. Satellite radio, noise canceling insulation, Bluetooth connection, a nice stereo and thick glass, so that you can whisper to someone sitting next to you at highway speeds, just to name a few. Nice, right?

Well, for motorcycle enthusiasts, this is a problem. The old saying of "loud pipes save lives" doesn't work anymore, with the advancements in automotive technology cars are more of a library than a Deep Purple concert. With all of this neat stuff, drivers forget they are driving a car or truck. They get distracted. I am for technology, I get it. But as a rider, I can't make it a mile without seeing someone messing with their phone, texting and driving, picking the next song to listen to, or munching on a cheeseburger. And I've been run off the road, cut off, and promptly given some hand gestures because I was paying attention and riding safely, but just happened to honk my horn or rev my engine to get some "distracted driver" to look where they were going.

In your car, as soon as it's in gear, you are a missile. You can be driving a Mini Cooper or a big Texas-style truck, your still a missile. The only thing keeping you on the road is the driver. Keep that in mind the next time you're in car, truck or whatever ride. Go online and find out how much your vehicle weighs. My old truck was well into 3500 lbs, and that my friends, is a big missile. 3500 lbs at 65 mph can do some serious damage, I'm a firefighter, and I've seen the damage first hand.

My dad taught me how to drive in northern Illinois. Of his many fatherly quotes, I would like to share this, "keep your head on a swivel, driving a car is a privilege, not a right". Remember that, because I promise you, someday it'll save a riders life. Maybe mine.