Spring into motorcycle safety awareness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As the weather warms up people may be motivated to start riding motorcycles, as the desired climate for outdoor activities has arrived.

The minimalism of riding a motorcycle can be a fun, efficient method of transportation, but also makes riders more vulnerable to hazards compared to traveling by car. Safety is absolutely necessary when hitting the road in any type of vehicle but especially on a motorcycle.

"Riding a motorcycle is dangerous business; the key is taking every advantage you can to protect yourself as you go out and ride," said Master Sgt. Ricky Longnecker, 22nd Security Forces Squadron first sergeant.

The most important thing a rider can do is to have the correct mindset; being completely aware of his or her surroundings can prevent accidents entirely.

"Motorcycle safety brings you home to the reality that there is a lot of skill, effort and thoughtfulness in riding," said Donald Maher, 22nd Air Refueling Wing weapon safety manager. "Awareness of traffic, weather and road conditions are much more important while riding a motorcycle, the stopping distance and how to turn are much different."

However, a rider can be very competent and perform accurately, but still be unable to prevent an accident. In 2005, Longnecker was involved in an accident at no fault of his own.

"It shook me more than any other wreck or close-call because I was doing everything right," said Longnecker.

He said he was using forward facing lights and reflective gear because it was night time, following the speed limit, used proper lane position and identified threats as he was riding; however, another motorist near him was not being safe.

"I had a green light, another driver had a yield left on green," he said. "When I saw him he was stopped. I looked to my left to see if anyone was coming from that direction, I looked to my right and he had started to move. It was too late to do anything."

The driver of the car was on his cell phone, not paying attention when the accident occured.

"The wreck tore up my shoulder, I had some other bumps and bruises, but I hit my head really hard on the pavement," he said. "Right where the helmet meets the brow I had this beautiful bruise across my forehead."

Wearing all the gear all the time may prevent further injury when involved in an accident.

"Personal protective equipment is not just a base requirement it will help you in an accident," said Longnecker. "My injuries were minor, but that smack to the forehead would not have been the same if I had not had a helmet on. I most likely would not be sitting here today."

The Department of Defense requires military motorcycle riders to wear an approved helmet, strong jacket and pants, footwear to cover the ankles and gloves as well as attend motorcycle safety courses in order to ride on base. The mandatory basic and optional advanced courses are provided at no cost to service members and teach the fundamentals of motorcycling that could potential save a life.

While riding a motorcycle, riders are more vulnerable to unpredictable incidents that can occur, therefore being cautious, wearing the proper equipment and acquiring training to sharpen skills are necessary for all riders to keep themselves safe and healthy.

For more information on motorcycle safety, contact the 22nd ARW safety office at DSN 743-3216 or commercial at (316)759-3216.