Commentary

July 10, 2014

Motorcycle Safety: Watch out

Commentary by Staff Sgt. Steve Stanley 
Headquarters Air Combat Command Public Affairs 

Langley AFB, Va. – They are sentences that have been repeated by thousands, “I lost someone in a motorcycle accident” or even “I was hurt in a motorcycle accident”.

In 2012 alone, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S. with an additional 93,000 injured.

Death is the ultimate price to pay for anything, and the odds of someone paying that price, or being seriously injured, increase considerably while riding a motorcycle as opposed to being in a car.

In fact, in 2012 motorcyclists were more than 26 times likely to die in motor vehicle traffic crashes than passenger car occupants and 5 times more likely to be injured per vehicle mile according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A study conducted by the University of Southern California found that the failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the dominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle did not see the motorcycle before the collision or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

Everyone on the road should look twice and realize that it is shared by motorcycles as well. Motorcyclists have to realize that even if a driver double-takes, they may still be hard to see.

Not paying enough attention while driving can have ripple effects and they can be quite traumatic. It’s not just the motorcyclists and their families who are affected, but also the person who hits the motorcyclists. They may have to live with the fact that they’ve changed these people’s life too, for a careless mistake.

When you are riding in a car you are surrounded by steel, air bags, fiber glass and other instruments such as seatbelts to protect you in case of an accident.

In addition to those safety features, most vehicles are designed to absorb the impact of a crash instead of the brunt of it bearing entirely down on the passengers.

When you crash on a motorcycle there are many things that can happen, all of them are bad. Unlike when riding in a car you aren’t strapped in by a seat belt and surrounded by a makeshift roll cage, instead you are almost always immediately ejected from the seat or worse.

While there will always be hazards associated with riding motorcycles; training, experience and safe riding practices will lower the possibility of a serious accident taking place.

Having a little experience under your belt before riding a motorcycle isn’t just a good idea, it’s in the AFI. According to AFI 91-207, all military personnel who operate a motorcycle on a roadway any time, on or off-duty and on or off military installations and all Air Force civilian personnel while in a duty status on official business, who operate a motorcycle on a roadway, and all operators of a government owned motorcycle, are required to attend and complete an approved motorcycle rider education course.

All of us can share the road and do it safely as long as long as we concur with traffic laws, keep fully mindful of each other, keep our eyes open and use common sense while operating any type of vehicle.

 

Some main tips to remember are:

• Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.

• Never ride your motorcycle after drinking.

• Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away.

• Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection.

• Avoid tailgating.

• Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier)

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