Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico --
On March 21, the Air Force kicks off their second annual Spring PMV-2 Focus in an effort to contact 100 percent of all military motorcycle riders, validate training requirements are being met, and ensure riders schedule and attend overdue training.
In fiscal year 2019, the Air Force witnessed a significant reduction in motorcycle fatalities resulting in a 57.5 percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities compared to the recent five-year average. There were four fatalities in FY19 compared to the five-year average of 9.4.
“I want to thank everyone involved for focusing on the Air Force motorcycle safety program,” said Michael Ballard, Air Force chief of Occupational Safety. “This includes motorcycle instructors, riders, safety staffs, commanders and supervisors.”
Ballard mentioned that last year the Air Force had the fewest number of rider fatalities that were found on record.
“That amazing feat was only possible due to the efforts of all these people and a bit of luck. Ballard said. “Why luck, you ask? Because often times we suffer motorcycle rider deaths through no fault of the rider. They are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when another driver was responsible for the accident.”
Riding a motorcycle is an inherently dangerous activity that requires continuous awareness and training to mitigate possible hazards on the road. This was a driving factor that led to the Air Force implementation of training based on a lifelong learning approach for its more than 23 thousand motorcycle riders some years back.
In 2013, Air Force motorcycle training went from a one-time requirement to a multifaceted five-year plan intended to build a rider’s skill level. The training breaks down into three parts that focus on providing the right training, at the right time, on the right bike.
“The Air Force has lost 47 Airmen to motorcycle accidents over the past five years,” said Arthur Albert, Air Force motorcycle program manager. “Of those, the 19-25 year olds top the list with 25 fatalities. We’re taking this time to ensure all of our riders are aware of the hazards of riding and they’re getting the tools to mitigate those hazards by providing the right training for their skill level.”
Initial training (Level I) takes an Airman from zero motorcycle knowledge to being able to balance and ride safely in traffic. This course should be taken within 30 days of request and Airmen must have a motorcycle permit or license to attend. However, initial training is not required if Airmen already have a motorcycle license or endorsement.
Intermediate training (Level II) helps the rider polish up their basic skills and helps with personal risk assessment. Exercises done on the motorcycle range enhance basic operating skills, crash-avoidance skills and puts an emphasis on improving braking and cornering. It is provided within 60 days of request, but never more than one year after completing initial training or being identified as a licensed rider.
Every five years a sustainment training, also called a refresher course, must be taken.
“Safely riding a motorcycle doesn’t mean not riding. It encompasses a safe behavioral mindset and being physically prepared for the challenges riding a motorcycle brings,” said Albert. “We want Airmen to keep their training current, practice safe riding skillsets, ensure they are mentally prepared to mitigate inherent risks, and always wear all required personal protective equipment on every ride, no matter how short or long the ride might be.”
Air Force major commands are responsible for implementing the requirements and validating that their installation commanders provide the prescribed traffic safety training to their personnel.
Unit commanders, within each MAJCOM, appoint Motorcycle Safety Representatives, in an additional duty capacity, to monitor the program. These MSRs are vital to the program’s success because they validate riders’ records for their unit in the Motorcycle Unit Safety Tracking Tool database and assist riders with scheduling and attending training.
The Motorcycle Unit Safety Tracking Tool provides training data for Air Force motorcycle riders and fills the requirements for monitoring both rider demographics and training outlined in Air Force Instruction 91-207, U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program. The data collected is then analyzed to help the Air Force make informed decisions for future training, tracking tools, and guidance needed to keep Airmen safe while riding a motorcycle, making sure they receive the right training, at the right time, with the right bike.
“Unfortunately, FY20 has already yielded six deaths of Airmen in motorcycle accidents,” said Ballard. “During this focus, we can all continue to make a difference in protecting our riders. We need everyone to ensure they are doing their part within the program to help prevent more needless deaths, now and into the future.”
For more information on the Spring PMV-2 Focus go to the Air Force Safety Center’s website at: https://www.safety.af.mil/Divisions/Occupational-Safety-Division/Air-Force-Rider/Spring-PMV-2-Focus/