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Commanders, supervisors play significant roles in motorcycle safety

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Womack
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety
It seems like every time you see a safety article, the focus is on the rider. However, commanders and supervisors have significant responsibilities for motorcycle safety and accident prevention.

In the course of my investigations, I often find commanders and supervisors didn't know the injured party was a rider, or worse, simply assumed the rider knew the rules. Too many Air Force people die on motorcycles: 15 died in fiscal year 2005 and five more have died since the start of fiscal year 2006. The common factors in these fatalities are judgment and speed. Males ages 18 to 26 are most at risk of an accident.

Recently, I investigated an accident resulting in injuries to the rider. Again, many knew the individual was a rider and senior leaders assumed he'd been trained. Unfortunately, the rider wasn't trained and didn't understand his responsibilities. He said he believed he only needed training to ride on base. Commanders and supervisors can and must contribute to motorcycle accident prevention. Communication and proper training prevents unnecessary accidents and mitigates the severity of those that do occur.

Mentoring is a powerful tool available to commanders, supervisors and riders as you strive to prevent needless motorcycle accidents. Wright-Patterson has an active mentorship program for riders of all experience levels. It's called Wright Wriders; membership is free and open base wide. Its goal is to educate riders and potential riders, prevent accidents, and enjoy the fellowship of riding. Wright Wriders can provide commanders and supervisors with information about motorcycle safety.

Other tools are also available to commanders and supervisors for accident prevention. Consider establishing a motorcycle safety focal point in your unit. Identify your riders during in-processing. Implement a process to identify current and potential riders in your unit. Talk to all of your employees about their responsibilities for training and use of personal protective equipment. Recommend your riders, regardless of experience level, seek and accomplish refresher training.

Don't assume your people are riding safely and in compliance with Air Force regulations. Identify your riders and actively point them toward safer riding. Make sure military members complete approved safety training before they ride a motorcycle on or off duty, and civilians complete approved safety training if they ride on duty.