Motorcycles come out as warm weather sets in
By Staff Sgt. Heather Stanton, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 06, 2010
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Warm temperatures have hit Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and motorcyclists who have been pining for the chance to take their two-wheeled vehicles out onto the roads for months have come out in full force.
As new riders browse showroom floors and old riders dust off their gear, the 4th Fighter Wing Safety Office is standing by with tips and classes to get them on the roads and prepared for the unexpected.
"Besides the obvious - you don't have to balance a car - riding a motorcycle is more of a mental skill than pure physical coordination," said Master Sgt. Adam Rising, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron production superintendent and motorcycle rider coach. "With the increased risk and vulnerability that comes with riding, the rider must process much more information and do it more quickly as compared to driving a car."
The number of fatal- and injury-motorcycle collisions has steadily increased throughout the Air Force since 1999.
"In order to address this problem, a variety of safety countermeasures are needed to stress the importance of motorcycle safety and prevent future motorcycle mishaps from occurring," said Master Sgt. Tanja Orwig, 4th Fighter Wing ground safety NCOIC.
The Air Force mandated various precautionary measures to prevent such mishaps.
All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a properly-fastened protective helmet, impact-resistant eye protection, brightly- colored long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long-legged trousers, gloves and shoes that cover the ankle, according to Air Force Instruction 31-204 Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision. At night, or in conditions of reduced visibility, riders and passengers must wear a reflective upper garment such as a reflective vest or belt slung over one shoulder and across the torso. All active duty members must comply with these regulations on and off base, on and off duty.
All on-base motorcycle riders, whether active duty, Guard, Reserve, retired, civilian or dependent, must also attend the Basic Rider Course. The safety office provides motorcycles and helmets for the class, but students must bring their own gloves, footwear, long-sleeved shirt or jacket and pants.
"The BRC is a two-and-a-half-day course that consists of classroom modules with a work book and an interactive DVD, as well as actual riding on the motorcycle range," Sergeant Rising said. "The basic requirement for any class is the ability to ride a bicycle. Beyond that, a positive attitude and a desire to learn will ensure success almost every time."
Sergeant Rising offers a couple of tips for first-time riders.
"First of all, do not buy a motorcycle before you actually take the class," he said. "This is a recipe for disaster and the temptation may prove too much for your body or career to bear. Second, when choosing your first motorcycle, do not get your dream bike. No one learns to drive (in) a Ferrari and you shouldn't either. Find a bike that fits your skills and riding style. There are myriad entry-level motorcycles that will help you develop skills safely before getting the road rocket."
Another class offered by the safety office is the Experienced Rider Course.
This one-day course includes discussions about enhanced riding techniques along with pertinent safety considerations, Sergeant Rising said. Students also complete a series of exercises designed to hone their current skills on their own motorcycles.
Individuals can sign up for a class via the 4th FW motorcycle safety community of practice located on the 4th FW portal. There is a register section on the homepage that will link to class listings.
"Being able to stay sharp mentally and manipulate the motorcycle using handlebar inputs and body positioning are unique skills that develop from training and practice," Sergeant Rising said. "Riding a motorcycle is a rewarding experience. Done correctly with the right attitude and training, it can be enjoyed well into the golden years."
For more information on motorcycle safety, call the 4th FW Safety Office at 722-4218.