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Air Force officials urge motorcycle safety

WASHINGTON -- As the summer brings warmer temperatures, Airmen should remain vigilant in taking safety precautions in all activities, and particularly on motorcycles, officials said here May 6.

In a 2011 Year of Motorcycle Safety dual-signature memorandum to Airmen, the assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics and the Air Force vice chief of staff recently stressed the special cautions riders must take on motorcycles, with specific attention to speed, reckless driving and alcohol use.

"Riding motorcycles is an exhilarating form of transportation and recreation, which also has a higher level of inherent risk," Assistant Secretary Terry Yonkers wrote in the memorandum. "Airmen, both military and civilian, who choose to ride motorcycles must do everything to mitigate these tasks every time they ride."

According to the Air Force Safety Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., motorcycle fatalities have risen 150 percent from January to March 2011, compared to the same period last year.

"These losses are unacceptable for our Air Force," said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove in the memorandum, adding that the service has already suffered one permanent total disability and five fatal motorcycle mishaps.

The safety reports indicated that all incidents had two common causal factors: the absence of automobile involvement and the rider losing control of his motorcycle.

"Our goal is to have zero preventable motorcycle mishaps and fatalities," said Maj. Gen. Greg Feest, the Air Force Chief of Safety and Air Force Safety Center commander. "I encourage senior leadership, commanders, supervisors and riders to get actively involved in support of this effort."

As such, General Breedlove underscored the importance of motorcycle safety mentorship to include wing-level activities that foster positive riding attitudes, behaviors and build necessary riding experience.

The safety initiative mandates that all military members complete an approved motorcycle safety rider course to operate on a roadway and that Air Force-led joint bases will provide basic rider course training without cost or delay to all service members.

Mr. Yonkers and General Breedlove expressed the criticality of fostering a culture of traffic safety culture for both the base population at large and the general public.

"Each rider is ultimately accountable for his or her individual safety decisions and we're counting on you to maintain your focus on safety," Mr. Yonkers said.

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