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Think before you ride

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Keith Cole
  • 1st Special Operations Support Squadron
On the morning of Aug. 17, I had planned on helping someone in need by supporting a motorcycle charity ride in Mobile, Ala. A group of us prepared to leave Fort Walton Beach around 8 p.m. to meet up with other riders from the local community and make the ride to Mobile.

On the way to Mobile, I noticed the posted 70 mph speed limit sign on Interstate 10. Our group was already traveling at a speed greater than that, and frankly, greater than what would be deemed safe. Along the way, we encountered Alabama state troopers and were arrested for reckless driving in accordance with Section 32-51-190 (Code of Alabama). The officer's radar indicated we were traveling in excess of 140 mph.

First and foremost I would like to apologize for my actions on that day and apologize to the Hurlburt community and local community. Riding motorcycles can be dangerous when using good judgment; now just increase that danger 100 percent when using poor judgment. I attended the motorcycle safety course and have been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years. Why would someone with that much experience be riding at such a dangerous speed? I got caught up in the moment and the feeling that I was invincible, that nothing would happen to me. I was wrong.

My friends and I were very lucky to just be stopped and taken to jail. If we were able to continue on, who knows what might have happened? I`m very thankful nothing serious happened to myself or my riding companions, and that I was able to return home later to my wife and kids. This was a far better scenario than my family getting a phone call telling them I was killed or seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. As I sat in the police station I had time to reflect back to my best friend who was on a motorcycle traveling at a speed of 170 mph, when he hit a car and died on the scene. That could have been me or another rider.

I am embarrassed and ashamed of my actions that day. Not only did I let myself down, I let down the people who put their faith in me every day that I will make the right decision. On Aug. 17, I made the wrong decision and now I am paying the price. From making the local news channel to incurring court costs and attorney fees, I am reminded daily of the consequences of my actions.

I hope this message hits home to all motorcycle riders and helps them understand younger riders are not the only ones capable of using poor judgment. Experienced riders like me can fall into the same trap. I can`t tell you how to ride, but before you take that Saturday or Sunday ride with a group of friends, think before you leave and ask yourself this question, "Will I use good judgment or poor judgment today?"