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Motorcycle classes, equipment crucial to staying safe on the road

30 Sep 2007 | Lance Cpl. Gregory Aalto

Safety aboard any military installation is vital, be it in the workplace, in the field or anywhere else. With 624 motorcycles registered here, motorcycles are a prominent part of station safety.

“The number of motorcyclists in Arizona has nearly doubled over the past six years, so it’s critical for riders wear the proper safety gear-especially a helmet—ride sober and get the proper training,” said Richard Fimbres, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

“The best thing a motorcyclist can do is take the motorcycle safety foundations class,” said Capt. Larry Vines, provost marshal.

“I don’t care if you have been riding for 35 years that class will teach you things you never knew about how to ride safely,” Vines added.

Although statistics are only available through 2005, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, fatalities caused by motorcycles rose every year between 2001 and 2005.

In 2005, 150 people were killed in Arizona motorcycle crashes. In 40 percent of the crashes no improper driving on the motorcyclist’s part was not to blame.

“You can have all the right gear on, but you must stay constantly vigilant, aware of what is going on all around you at any given time,” said Sgt. Maj. Christopher Hamel, Headquarters& Headquarters Squadron sergeant major.

Overall, 2,867 motorcycle crashes occurred in Arizona in 2005, the majority happening in daylight on dry roads.

With many of these things happening during the perceived safest conditions what is a motorcyclist to do?

Personal protective equipment is necessary to help ensure safety while riding a motorcycle.

According to Department of Defense Instruction 6055.4 paragraph E3.2, PPE is:

- Department of Transportation approved helmet.

- Impact or shatter resistant goggles or a full face shield properly attached.

- Sturdy footwear, leather boots or ankle covering shoes are strongly encouraged.

- Long sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers and full fingered gloves designed for use on a motorcycle.

- Brightly colored outer garment during the day and a reflective upper garment at night. This must be fully visible during wear.

These regulations apply to all DoD members at any time, on or off installation. It also applies to all people on a DoD installation, regardless of status.

“If I find any Marine out in town without proper PPE gear I will stop them and make sure they know what the correct attire is,” said Hamel. “Normally what I find is improper reflective vests and unsafe footwear,” he added.

Safety measures can help reduce the number of deaths attributed to motorcycles. Between 1975 and 1999 more than 38,000 people died in the United States due to motorcycle accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the same time span more than 255,000 injuries were accrued by motorcycle crashes.

The NHTSA also maintains that a motorcyclist is 16 times more likely to die in the event of a crash than an automobile occupant.

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Marine Corps Air Station Yuma