NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
Thrilling. Exhilarating. Blood-pumping.
Just a few words motorcyclists use to describe their hobby, but without the proper training and use of safety techniques, it can be described using a different word – deadly.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, sales of motorcycles and scooters rose 8 percent January through March compared to 2005. The council reports it expects other rise in sales throughout the second quarter of this year.
With the increase in the amount of motorcycle riders on the road, the risk of otorcycle-related accidents increases.
“Motorcycles cost less to purchase and insure, and they get better gas mileage than cars,” said Vic Moss, a local motorcycle instructor.
However, before running out and buying a motorcycle, there are some things to consider.
Air Force motorcyclists are required to pass an in-house motorcycle safety course before they are permitted to ride.
Nellis offers two classes under the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The classes are designed for the brand-new rider as well as the seasoned.
The Basic Rider’s Course is a three-day course that teaches the basic fundamentals of riding. The Experienced Rider’s Course is a one-day course designed for riders with six months or more experience.
Professional training is important, but so is experience, said Senior Airman Rebecca Johnson, 152nd Communications Flight, Reno Air National Guard videographer and motorcyclist.
Being aware of your surroundings is important, especially in Las Vegas, she said.
“Over two-thirds of car-motorcycle crashes are caused by drivers, not by motorcyclists,” said Mr. Moss. “The driver either did not see the oncoming motorcyclist at all or did not see the motorcyclist in time to avoid the crash.”
Unfortunately, in an accident situation, motorcyclists are not protected as well as they would be in a car.
“There are not seatbelts, no airbags,” said Mr. Moss. “There is a greater chance for serious injury or death from a motorcycle crash than a car crash.”
Airman Johnson said she takes every safety precaution when riding. “You’re virtually invisible to automobile drivers, so wearing the right gear is really important,” she said, adding she wears everything from a helmet to reflective gear when riding.
There are precautions motorcyclists can take to avoid problems on the road, but drivers of vehicles need to also be aware and respect the presence of cyclists.
During the 101 Critical Days of Summer in 2004, motorcycle deaths were at their peak with 11 deaths in the Air Force. That number was slightly reduced in 2005 by two with nine deaths during the summer months. One motorcycle death has already occurred this year during these critical months.
For more information on motorcycle training or to register for a class, go to www.cycleschool.org