NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — With the Critical Days of Summer campaign in full swing, motorcycle safety once again becomes a
major focus throughout the Air Force. Here at Nellis, motorcycle riders often flock to the streets in droves after the winter months to take in Southern Nevada’s beautiful scenery and ideal riding weather.
However, the influx of motorcyclists brings additional hazards to the roadways.
“As a rider, there’s some key things you need to know, like the proper way to ride and how to do it safely,” said Anthony Wilson, 99th Air Base Wing Safety superintendent and motorcycle program manager. “There are also the [personal protective equipment] requirements — helmet, long-sleeve shirt or jacket, long trousers, full-fingered gloves or mittens in leather or abrasion-resistant material, and over-the-ankle footwear. Reflective vests aren’t mandatory anymore, but still are highly recommended and encouraged.”
Even with the proper equipment and knowledge, motorcyclists must still remain cognizant to the biggest threat to their safety — other motorists.
“Even if you do everything right, you still can’t prevent every mishap from happening,” Wilson said. “I got hit on base by an elderly lady who didn’t see me. I was stopped at a stop sign and she ran into my back tire. No injuries, I didn’t drop [the bike], nothing like that. I was doing everything right, I had on my reflective gear, was stopped at the stop sign, but she just didn’t see me.”
While preventing every little thing may be impossible, Wilson said motorcycle selection is the first important step that a rider must make.
“Young guys always want to get the biggest, fastest sports bike they can, but they can’t handle it and end up getting into an accident,” he said. “They always want a [1000cc sports bike], but I tell them I’ve been riding for 20 years and I got a 600. You don’t need all that to go the speed limit.”
For active duty Air Force members stationed at Nellis, participating in the 99th ABW Safety office’s initial motorcycle safety course is mandatory before motorcyclists can legally ride on or off the installation.
To sign up for the course, members must complete a documented counseling session with their commander, and fill out a training request form which has to be signed by the member’s supervisor, first sergeant and commander before submitting the form to the safety office.
“We train about 450 riders per year, and teach them the right, safe way to ride,” Wilson said. “In 2013, Nellis had five motorcycle mishaps. Between February and September 2012 we had three fatalities, but we’ve been really lucky since then because we haven’t had anymore.”
While there will always be hazards associated with riding motorcycles, safe riding practices will ensure motorcyclists are around to “ride to live, live to ride.”
“I’ve been riding for about a year and there’s really nothing like it,” said Airman 1st Class Cedrica Edwards, 99th Comptrollers Squadron budget analyst. “You definitely have to be aware of everything around you at all times because things happen so much faster, but that’s also what makes it so great. I really can’t imagine going back to just driving cars again.”
For more motorcycle safety tips or additional information on the motorcycle safety course, contact the 99th ABW Safety office at (702) 652-7602.