Maxwell Safety team shares motorcycle risks and warnings

  • Published
  • By Mark Garner
  • 42nd Air Base Wing Safety

May is Motorcycle Safety Month, and the installation is reflecting on recent losses due to private motor vehicle accidents.

“The Air Force has lost 17 Airmen in private motor vehicles so far during fiscal year 2023, compared to 21 in 2022. Out of the 17 this year, 10 were motorcycle fatalities,” said Mr. Mark Garner, 42nd Air Base Wing deputy director of safety. “Motorcycle accidents kill far too many Airmen and are more often the fault of the motorcycle operator. Speed, alcohol, fatigue, inexperience and not wearing appropriate protective gear are some of the factors which leads to the fatal injuries.”

The safety office offers both beginner and experienced riders training courses that all active-duty members are required to attend if they are going to ride a motorcycle on or off duty. Civilian riders are highly encouraged to also take part in this training.

The training gives a rider the basic skills needed to operate a motorcycle safely, and if you are a new rider, it's best not to jump straight into heavy traffic. For example, ride in parking lots or in your neighborhood first to get a feel for the bike.

If motorcyclists are not visible, most automobile drivers may not see the motorcycle and pull out in front of the motorcyclists. Garner emphasizes the importance of "see and be seen" when riding a motorcycle.

One strategy to consider is the Search, Evaluate and Execute strategy which can help both motorcyclists and motorists avoid accidents that can result in fatalities. The acronym makes use of a person's visual, cognitive, and motor skills when riding a motorcycle or driving a car. Below are four recent cases in 2023 involving Airmen killed in motorcycle crashes:

· Airman operating a motorcycle rear-ended another vehicle

· Airman operating a motorcycle struck another vehicle

· Airman operating a motorcycle struck a guardrail

· Airman struck a curb

For motorcyclists, these examples illustrate how easily an accident can occur. In addition to 'see and be seen', wear the proper protective equipment, such as helmets, gloves, and leather jackets.

“I'm a base motorcycle course instructor, and I always have past students come up to me and say they remembered what I taught in class and the range, and that got me out of what could have been a bad accident,” Garner said.

To enroll in one of the base motorcycle training courses, call the 42nd ABW Safety Office at 953-2001.