By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
In fiscal 2011, the Air Force lost 16 members in motorcycle mishaps. Although riding season is already underway, it is important for riders to not let their guard down. This fiscal year, there have already been 15 motorcycle fatalities in the Air Force.
Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Feest, Air Force chief of safety, stressed the need for riders to have the right skills, the right training and the right attitude on the Air Force Safety Center’s Air Force Rider website.
“Operating a motorcycle is a high-risk activity and takes different skills than driving a four-wheeled vehicle,” said Feest. “Airmen all around the world take the necessary safety precautions and enjoy riding their motorcycles. Unfortunately, every year we lose Airmen to motorcycle accidents. Each motorcycle fatality impacts our units, communities and the Air Force family. Most of our accidents are due to a lack of training, poor riding skills and a risky attitude, most notably driving too fast for conditions.”
Remaining aware of your surroundings and wearing all required personal protective equipment outlined in Air Force Instruction 91-207 are vital to motorcycle safety.
“For new riders, the most important thing to remember is that there is no hurry to get out on the road. Take your time practicing in your neighborhood, in parking lots, etc. before you get out. If you are not comfortable, wait,” said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Law, ground safety manager. “Another good idea is to touch base with someone you know who is an experienced rider. Experienced riders love to share tips and lessons learned — just ask.”
Additionally, there are several training vendors to choose from in the local area to take basic through advanced rider courses.
The Air Force recognizes the importance of appropriate training and can reimburse any active duty member or Department of Defense civilian who takes any of these courses.
“All they have to do is bring their Motorcycle Safety Foundation course card and their receipt to the wing safety office — then we have them fill out a local voucher,” said Law. “Barring any issues with the voucher, it takes about four to six weeks to see the reimbursement.”
Motorists are also encouraged to play a part in keeping motorcyclists safe on the road. Colorado State Patrol offers these pointers for sharing the road:
• Check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic.
• Double-check traffic at intersections before you turn or pull out.
• Allow a minimum of two-second “space cushion” when following a motorcycle.
• Use turn signals to indicate your next move allowing motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow.
• Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width-never try to share a lane.
• Stay focused on the driving task and treat motorcyclists with the same respect and courtesy offered to other motorists.
Motorcyclists also have to look out for additional hazards this time of year.
During the summer, some things to be aware of are the higher number of vehicles on the road, weather that can change at a moment’s notice, and road construction.
For more information, visit http://www.afsec.af.mil/airforcerider/index.asp or call the safety office at 567-7233.