AF motorcycle safety expands with added instructors

  • Published
  • By Albert Arthur
  • Air Force Safety Center
The U.S. Air Force took another stride forward in the continuous effort to reduce motorcycle mishaps amongst its riders. Eight highly motivated motorcycle instructors recently graduated from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s RiderCoach™ Trainer Preparation course held May 12-24 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Motorcycle riding continues to be a leading cause of fatal mishaps to our Airmen. To help mitigate the risk, Air Force Occupational Safety is moving toward more focused training and away from providing riders basic skills training.

According to Department of Defense Instruction 6055.04, Traffic Safety Program Summary and Air Force Instruction 91-207, The US Air Force Traffic Safety Program, military personnel who operate or intend to operate a motorcycle on a roadway, operators of government-owned motorcycles and civilian employees required by their job to operate a motorcycle will successfully complete motorcycle safety training.

“Air Force motorcycle riders have a responsibility to complete mandatory training requirements,” said Michael Eckert, chief of the Traffic Safety and Outreach Branch, Air Force Occupational Safety. “This training course will benefit more than the Airmen that graduated from the course. Riders across the Air Force will get the opportunity to receive the proper skills and techniques needed to be ready to ride."

With approximately 26,000 motorcycle riders in the Air Force, installation operational funding is often strained to meet rider training requirements set by regulations. In an effort to lessen that strain, Air Force Occupational Safety staff at the Air Force Safety Center secured funding to enhance current RiderCoaches™ skillsets and to get them certified as trainers.

The Airmen were selected by commanders AF-wide to participate in an intense course spanning 13 days with graduates going on to assist installations worldwide in a viable pool of motorcycle riding instructors supporting commanders’ in-house ride training programs.

“Here at Joint Base San Antonio, we have an estimated 7,000 motorcycle riders from all services,” said John E. McLaughlin, Joint Base San Antonio motorcycle safety program manager and newly certified trainer. “By me becoming a Ridercoach™ Trainer, I will be saving the base $6,000 to $10,000, annually.”

Candidates were run through a myriad of tasks to prepare them as motorcycle safety riding instructors. This included classroom teaching techniques, practical training on the skills course with other seasoned riders, techniques for coaching novice riders, understanding behavioral effects on rider decisions and finally as instructors for a motorcycle safety course.

“The Ridercoach™ trainer prep class gave me a better understanding of the curriculum, form, and flow of a Basic Rider Course,” added McLaughlin. “I can now, with confidence, instruct others on how to teach this course while growing the motorcycle safety culture DoD wide.”

On completion of all requirements and receiving less than two unsatisfactory ratings, candidates were awarded their national certification.

“The course was a great success, as new RiderCoaches™ and RiderCoach™ trainers are now ready to move the Air Force program forward,” said Ray Ochs, vice president of training systems for MSF.

Air Force programs will concentrate more on advanced training and mentorship while relying on state licensing programs to provide basic riders training. This approach will focus Air Force resources on the enhancement of current rider’s skills to improve risk decision-making amongst riders.