Airmen enjoy open road with safety on their side

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- In the state of New Mexico, residents enjoy more than 300 sunny days a year, making New Mexico a place many find great for riding motorcycles. Airmen enjoying these sunny days need to be aware of the mandatory training and personal protective requirements for motorcycles, including all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, and street cycles.

Before military members decide to jump on their two-wheeled freedom chasers, they must attend and complete a motorcycle training class. In accordance with Air Force Instruction 91-207, riders must take an appropriate motorcycle safety foundation course, said Daniel Salinas, 49th Wing ground safety specialist.

"These classes are designed to help every rider from beginner to expert to become a better motorcycle rider," said Salinas. "Every student that I have taught has come up to me and said the experience and beginner course taught them so much about how to be a safer rider."

Becoming a qualified motorcycle rider does not begin and end with taking the beginner rider safety course.

When a rider completes the basic riding course, although they are still qualified to ride on the streets, their experience is still very limited, said Salinas. That is why the rider needs to continue to practice what they learned in that class to become a better rider.

Salinas said riding with the proper personal protective equipment and taking these riding classes will make a better rider out of every participant, so that they can still enjoy the benefits of riding in a safe way.

"The class really showed me how to operate a motorcycle and get out of tough situations," said Airman 1st Class Jesse Hastings, 49th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, who rides a sport bike. "I had very little experience before I took the class on motorcycles, so I really feel I have benefitted from taking this class."

The military offers these classes for free to Airmen so that they are better equipped to ride, said Salinas.

"I think every rider knows the risk of riding a motorcycle, but wearing the proper PPE and riding within my skill set increases my chance of being safe," said Hastings.

Riders need to talk to other riders, especially newer riders, about things they've seen -- that way, by making others aware of hazards they might encounter, fellow riders might not repeat them, said Salinas.

"Something I highly recommend is finding a buddy or a group to ride with," said Hastings. "I feel safer riding with other people, and I have found mentors to help develop me as a rider."

Salinas said many Airmen forget that they are part of the military once they get on their motorcycle.

All military members who ride motorcycles need to remember there are rules and regulations they must follow.

"If an Airman is injured while riding a motorcycle and a commander finds that Airman liable because the motorcycle safety class was not taken or the proper PPE was not worn, the commander can take action by using the line of duty determination," said Salinas. "This can result in taking money away, losing a stripe, or other consequences."

This year alone, 14 Airmen were killed while riding a motorcycle and that is why the military understands the importance of having the proper training before getting on a motorcycle, said Salinas.

"The military requirements to ride a motorcycle are designed to keep Airmen safe," said Salinas. "The military wants to protect you. "The Air Force wants to keep all their Airmen physically ready, so they can be ready to do what is needed of them to complete the mission."

For more information about the Beginner and Experienced Rider courses offered on base and downtown contact the Wing safety office at (575) 572-3793.