At Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, students are getting ready for basic motorcycle rider training that takes place from April to November and is offered for free to all members of the Department of Defense on May 24, 2022. 

The US Air Force emphasizes the significance of motorcycle safety as the number of road fatalities has increased during the cold season.

Between Oct. 28, 2022, and Jan. 5, 2023, seven members of the Air Force perished in motorcycle accidents, with four of them happening since Dec. 15, 2022, as reported by the Air Force Safety Center.

The group of individuals, consisting of senior airmen up to technical sergeants, varied in age from 25 to 35. But, three of them still needed to complete the necessary motorcycle education.

The safety center’s data shows that in the 2021 fiscal year, 18 airmen passed in motorcycle accidents, and 13 for the 2020 fiscal year.

Motorcycle
(Source: dfirecop/Flickr)

The Air Force reported on Jan. 12 that the rate of motorcycle-related incidents and fatalities is lower than usual due to fewer riders in cold weather. The Air Force believes that most incidents could have been averted, citing factors such as excessive speed, alcohol consumption, a lack of proper training, and no use of PPE. According to the initial reports, these were the contributory elements.

Local units have been motivated to halt activities and speak about motorcycle safety with their riders, like the comprehensive standdown implemented in 2019 to focus on mental health and suicide prevention.

The reminder to troops was to complete their instruction, take responsibility for their behavior, and refrain from driving too quickly or cutting off other cars.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that, in 2020, there was a much higher risk of death for motorcyclists compared to people in cars; they were 28 times more likely to die in an accident and four times more likely to be injured.

The US Air Force has stated that airmen and guardians must wear helmets and off base; they have suggested using airbag vests to reduce the risk of blunt force trauma by up to 60%. By utilizing suitable protective equipment, including the airbag vest, riders could lessen the seriousness of an accident or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Motorcycles are a common hobby for many military veterans and active duty members. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that motorcycle ownership among veterans has increased over the years. Another research by the Motorcycle Industry Council showed that there has been a rise in motorcycle ownership in households from 6.94% to 8.02% in 2018. 

“The United States Census Bureau’s most recent estimate put the number of US households at 126,224,000. The MIC Owner Survey found that 10,124,400 of those homes had a motorcycle.”

This affinity for motorcycles can be attributed to service members’ need for personal transportation, a sense of freedom and adventure associated with motorcycle riding, or even a way to honor their fallen comrades who have died in the line of duty. In addition, motorcycle owners tend to feel connected to others in their veteran community who also enjoy riding bikes, and many form strong friendships through participating in events such as charity rides or rallies. 

Despite this strong connection shared by many veteran riders, statistics show that motorcycling comes with an increased risk for fatality or serious injury when compared with other types of transportation. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,308 deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents in 2020, with motorcycle fatalities accounting for 14% of those deaths. Additionally, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), more than 5,000 motorcyclists were killed on US roads in 2020 alone—a 6% increase from 2019’s death toll. 

The Pic of the Day: Motorcycle safety course

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The US Air Force places a heavy emphasis on safety and offers free basic motorcycle rider training at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire from April to November each year to reduce these numbers. Despite this measure being taken by the Air Force and other branches of service, it is clear that motorcycles still pose an inherent risk when compared with other forms of transportation. However, if riders take proper precautions and adhere to all applicable laws while operating their vehicles, they can significantly reduce the chance of being involved in a fatal accident or suffering significant injuries.

For motorcyclists, the Air Force Safety Center provides educational resources here.

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