Motorcycle May for a Safe Summer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Earlandez Young
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As May brings warmer days and plenty of sun, it is also guaranteed to bring many motorcyclists back onto the nation's roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages motorcycle riders and all other traffic participants to gear up and use May, the National Motorcycle Awareness Month, to focus on sharing the road and making it a safe summer.

"The Department of Defense takes motorcycle safety very serious," said Mark Rupert, the deputy chief of safety at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. "Along with having the appropriate license to operate a motorcycle, the DOD also requires individuals to successfully complete an approved rider or operator safety course before operating any motorcycle. This course must follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum taught by certified instructors; include hands-on training and a performance and knowledge-based evaluation."

Conducted in 1981, the "Hurt Study" highlighted that intersections are high vulnerability locations for motorcycle collisions with other vehicles. The key reasons are right-of-way and traffic control violations. Other findings included failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic.

"This is the predominate cause of motorcycle accidents," said Rupert. "Being seen and making yourself known as a rider to other motor vehicle operators is a critical factor to reducing multiple vehicle accidents."

The study also showed that accident involvement is significantly reduced with continuous operation of motorcycle headlamps and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright-red jackets. Rupert said drivers making themselves conspicuous is the most critical step any rider can take to reduce the probability of being involved in a multi-vehicle mishap.

In fiscal 2011, the Air Force lost 15 members in motorcycle mishaps and three so far in fiscal 2012. Most accidents were due to excessive speeds, failure to negotiate a turn and others due to unfamiliarity with the motorcycle itself.

To ease this trend, the DOD requires active duty military members riding a motorcycle on or off base to take the MSF training.

"The MSF training is provided free of charge to all military members," said Master Sgt. Michael Marshall, the NCO in charge of ground safety at the 92nd ARW. "Other critical components required for riding on or off base include riding with the headlight operating at all times and wear of proper protective equipment."

Active-duty military members who ride motorcycles are required to wear a DOT or ANSI approved helmet; a long-sleeved shirt or jacket; long pants; full fingered gloves; sturdy footwear and eye protection, because a windshield on the motorcycle does not constitute proper eye protection. These requirements are outlined in AFI 91-207.

"Remember, while riding a motorcycle, never assume the other motorist sees you," said Rupert. "Ride defensively, be alert to the other motorist's actions and activity, make yourself known to the other motorists and stay out of their blind spots. Your life depends on it."