Nicer weather ushers in renewed focus on motorcycle safety

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

The month of May is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – a time to promote vigilance among motorcyclists and awareness among the motorists who share the roads with them.

The warmer temperatures and sunnier skies of the spring season and approaching summer will bring an increase in the number of motorcyclists across the country.

In an effort to bolster safety, there are rules that those who choose to ride their motorcycles in and around Arnold Air Force Base and other Air Force installations must follow.

The Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) minimum requirements, which apply to active duty personnel, DOD staff and civilian contractors, can be found in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 91-207. That AFI states:

• Riders must wear a helmet certified to meet current Department of Transportation standards. The helmet must be properly fastened under the chin.
• Riders must wear goggles, wraparound glasses or a full face shield designed to meet or exceed American National Standards Institute standards. A windshield does not constitute proper eye protection.
• Riders are required to wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers and full-fingered gloves or mittens. Gloves or mittens are to be made from leather or another abrasion-resistant material. Riders are encouraged to wear motorcycle jackets and pants made of abrasion-resistant materials such as leather, Kevlar or Cordura containing impact-absorbing padding. Riders are also encouraged to select riding clothing that incorporates fluorescent colors and retro-reflective material.
• Foot protection is required for riders. This is to include sturdy over-the-ankle footwear that affords protection for the feet and ankles.

Those attempting to enter the base without meeting the minimum requirements will not be allowed entry on their motorcycles.

The AFI defines a motorcycle as any two-wheeled vehicle with an engine of 49cc (cubic centimeters) or greater. It further states all motorcycles will have headlights turned on at all times when operating on a DOD installation on or off road except where prohibited during military mission or by state, local or host nation law. Passengers are not authorized on motorcycles unless they are specifically designed to carry a passenger.

Anyone found in violation of the PPE requirements while riding on base can be cited and receive points on his or her AEDC driving record, potentially resulting in the suspension or revocation of on-base driving privileges.

Military personnel who operate or intend to operate a motorcycle on a roadway, operators of a government-owned or –leased motorcycle, and Air Force civilians in accordance with their position description are to successfully complete motorcycle safety training outlined in AFI 91-207 prior to operation. It is the responsibility of the rider to possess a valid motorcycle license, endorsement or rider permit prior to operating a motorcycle on a roadway to include travel to and from training locations.

All other personnel are encouraged to seek training at their own expense.

According to the Air Force Safety Center, three off-duty Airmen stationed around the world have been killed in motorcycle-related mishaps during the current fiscal year as of May 8. These deaths represent 25 percent of the total off-duty mishap deaths occurring thus far in the 2019 fiscal year.

In 2018, there were 166 deadly motorcycle crashes in the state of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. This is up from the 134 that occurred in 2017.

Pre-riding season briefs are held each year for Arnold AFB active duty personnel who ride motorcycles or plan to. Along with receiving information to ensure safer motorcycle operations, those taking part in these safety briefs are provided with a motorcycle inspection checklist that covers everything from mirrors and handlebars to tires and hoses. It is recommended that riders inspect their motorcycles after a prolonged riding hiatus, including following the winter season.

The inspection checklist may be found at

To view AFI 91-207 on the U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program in its entirety, visit and search “AFI91-207” under the “Publications + Forms” selection.

Air Force riders seeking more information on motorcycle safety and training programs may also visit