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Practice motorcycle safety this summer

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Manalo
  • 571st Contingency Response Group first sergeant
Isn't the weather beautiful during this season here in Northern California? At times it can be a little hot, but for the most part the weather's great and it's the perfect time to ride a motorcycle. Most know motorcycles can be very dangerous though. They do not offer as much protection to the operator as a motor vehicle does and often other motorists fail to see motorcyclists on the road. That is one of the reasons I got rid of my previous bike.

After numerous times of almost being hit while just riding around town, I sold it before returning home from my deployment two years ago. But with this beautiful weather and seeing all the motorcycles out and about, I could not resist, so I broke down and bought another one. I want to take a few minutes to go over some things for riders to keep in mind.
The first thing is ensuring you have completed all the required training and completed all the necessary paperwork. Each unit should have a motorcycle safety representative, so get a hold of him or her to make sure you are good to go. For example, completing the Basic Riders Course or Sportbike Riders Course required for sportbikes and certain sport touring bikes, briefing with your commander, signing the Air Mobility Command Form 91 and completing the safety inspection.

The second thing is having all the appropriate personal protective equipment. This can be found in Air Force Instruction 91-207, "The U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program," and includes head protection, eye protection, protective clothing and foot protection. For head protection, the helmet worn must be certified meeting Snell Standard M2005 and be properly fastened under the chin. For eye protection goggles, wrap around glasses or a full-face shield designed to meet or exceed American National Standards Institute Standard Z87.1 for impact and shatter resistance must be worn and properly used. For protective clothing, you must wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers and full-fingered gloves or mittens. Your upper garment must be contrasting colors from your bike or be a highly visible color (fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red or fluorescent red, etc.) during the day and a retro-reflective material during the night. When riding onto the base, your upper garment must have reflective capability. You may wear a backpack if it has high visibility colors, high visibility reflective properties and does not obscure the high visibility and reflectivity of the rider's upper garment. A reflective belt is not considered a garment and does not meet this standard. For foot protection, sturdy over the ankle footwear that provides protection for the feet and ankles must be used.

The third thing is to ensure your motorcycle is good and in full operable condition. Going back to the basics, you should perform the tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis, stands inspection before riding.

The last thing I want to touch on is safety. As you all know we are currently in the Critical Days of Summer. Sadly we have already lost nine Airmen and six of those involved a motorcycle. Please be safe out there on the road. It does not matter if you have been riding for 15 years or how much training you have received. If you want to go fast and test the limits of your motorcycle then take it to the track where it is a lot safer compared to the streets. Remember the ID card does not expire just because you are out of uniform and off the installation; you are still a member of the U.S. Air Force. If you are riding in a group and someone is speeding excessively and riding recklessly, be a good wingman and tell them to tone it down because it may just save their life. The last thing we need is another mishap or fatality. Please ride safe and I will see you on the road.