It’s known that summer is the best season for motorcycle riders.
The consistent sunny weather enables longer rides with better conditions throughout California, but more motorcycles on the road increases the likelihood of motorcycle accidents, which is why Motorcycle Awareness Month kicks off in May.
To increase safety awareness among Edwards riders, the 412th Test Wing Ground Safety office recently coordinated a sport bike safety class in May for military personnel here in order to help riders sharpen their skills and to teach them how to anticipate problems when riding.
“In the military, specifically the Air Force, we’ve seen a lot of our traffic mishaps involving sport bike motorcyclists. Since that’s where we’ve see most of our fatalities, we wanted to try to bring the course here in order to provide that extra training that gives them the hands-on experience to learn better braking capabilities, cornering capabilities, skill awareness, hazard recognition and perception of what goes on out there while they’re riding. That’s what this course is designed for them to do,” said Alan Lederman, 412th Test Wing Ground Safety Office safety specialist.
“This course was developed as a result of a lot of military members coming back from deployments who had a lot of disposable or discretionary income and they were buying motorcycles that were very large, fast and powerful and they were getting hurt or getting killed,” added Alton Stevens, Cape Fox motorcycle safety instructor. “Military leaders realized that this was causing more deaths and fatalities than they were having in combat, so the Air Force wanted to create something to address and fix the problem.”
According to Lederman, the course is intended to equip Airmen with supplemental training. That supplemental training comes in the form of an eight-hour class.
“Since it is a one-day course, we try to do the riding portion in the morning while it’s cooler and the classroom instruction in the afternoon, which equates to five hours of riding and three hours of classroom time,” said Stevens. “It’s designed so we help them improve their skills on the motorcycle but also help them assess their riding skill.”
“Ideally, this is catered more for an experienced rider. For the beginner rider, we want to make sure they’ve taken the basic rider course,” added Lederman. “Once they’ve completed that training this is the next step.”
As of this month, the 412th TW Ground Safety office has already hosted two classes, but encourages members who are interested in attending future classes to contact their unit motorcycle safety representative.
“Right now the course is designed primarily for the military members. What we did is we worked with one of the contract folks, called Cape Fox. The individual can go online and self-register for this type of course,” Lederman said. “Once they obtain the approval of their supervisors, they can come out and attend.”
“This course provides the perfect controlled environment, so riders can gauge their skill level and improve their motorcycle safety,” said Lt. Col. Chris Spinelli, 445th Flight Test Squadron commander and sport bike class participant.
According to Lederman, the base has slated three more courses to be hosted here between May and the end of August depending on the demand.
“Depending on how successful this is, we will be offering more classes for our riders,” said Lederman.
“All in all, we hope participants enjoy their summer riding but that they take this as an opportunity to obtain skills that can help save their life when they’re out on the road,” added Stevens. “Another point I stress is also directed at each motorist. Hang up and drive is the biggest thing I tell motorists. When you’re in your vehicle, your main focus should be driving the vehicle.”
When you ride your motorcycle or are a passenger, follow these tips to stay safe:
* Always wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.
* Never drive your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
* Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away.
* Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you.
* Avoid tailgating and riding between lanes.
* Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.
For more info, motorcyclists looking to participate in the next class should speak to their unit motorcycle safety representative or contact the 412th TW Ground Safety office at (661) 277-4640.