by Monica Mendoza
Jim Carson, Colorado Springs police officer and police motorcycle instructor, gave riders safety tips on how to ride with a large group. He urged riders, who often invest quite a bit of money into their motorcycles and their riding gear, to spend some money on training.
“There are videos and there are places for advanced training,” he said. “As far as statistics, you don’t want to be one.”
Motorcycle Safety Day is just one of many activities planned for this summer’s Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, which runs now to Labor Day weekend. Since 1967, Air Force leaders have put extra emphasis on safety during the summer months in an effort to reduce mishaps.
This summer Air Force leaders are putting particular focus on motorcycle safety. According to the Air Force Safety Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., motorcycle fatalities have risen 150 percent from January to March 2011, compared to the same period last year. The safety reports indicated that all incidents had two common causal factors: the absence of automobile involvement and the rider losing control of his motorcycle.
“These losses are unacceptable for our Air Force,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff, in a May 2011 memorandum to Airmen.
Motorcycle safety is always a challenge, said Darron Haughn, 21st Space Wing Safety Office flight safety manager. Riding motorcycles is exhilarating, but also has a higher level of inherent risk. Even if a motorcycle rider follows all the rules, motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time. In Colorado, 3 percent of all registered vehicles are motorcycles, but they account for 18 percent of traffic fatalities, he said.
“We have some of the most responsible riders that I’ve seen in the Air Force,” Mr. Haughn said. “Our riders are very professional, wearing all the required gear and driving in control and doing their part. We as automobile drivers, we need to do our part to make sure we are watching for the motorcycle riders because they are at an unfair advantage when it comes to sharing the road.”
In his summer safety message to the wing, Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, reminded Airmen that safety is their responsibility.
“We can beat the high risk summer period by making smart choices,” he said. “For example, avoid cell phone use while driving, wear seatbelts, don proper motorcycle and high-risk activity PPE, and be a Wingman.”
Be visible. Use reflective strips or decals on clothing and motorcycles. Flash the brake light when slowing down and before stopping.
Dress for safety. Wear a quality helmet and eye protection. Wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet. Wear leather or other synthetic, protective clothing. Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the ankle boots and gloves.
Know the bike and how to use it. Develop riding techniques before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle the bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds and uneven surfaces. And, master the controls such as shifting, braking and turning.
Give yourself space. People driving cars often don’t see motorcycles and if they do, they cannot properly judge speed.
l Anyone who would like to volunteer to lead any of the summer safety activities, including dressing up like Vince and Larry, helping with the drunken goggle games or any of the safety days, call Tech. Sgt. Christopher Blasengame at 556-7091.
(The Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office contributed to this article.)