YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The safety of our Airmen and their families is one of Yokota's top priorities. Every action involves an element of risk, but taking appropriate precautions can make all the difference. This holds especially true for motorcycle safety.
To drive a motorcycle on or off base in Japan a rider must complete the Basic Rider Course and the Basic Rider Course 2. The courses, which teach safe driving practices such as situational awareness and proper use of personal protective equipment, are free to Yokota personnel and their dependents.
"There's no reason not to take the courses," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Pimental, 374th Airlift Wing motorcycle safety program manager. "It can only improve your skills as a rider."
There is a direct correlation between the skill and experience of a rider and the likelihood of a fatal accident. Pimental attributes this to the differences between driving a car and riding a motorcycle and the reactions taken in the event of a crash for each vehicle.
"The longer you've been riding (and) the more scenarios you've encountered, the better equipped you are to execute the proper procedures," Pimental said. "It can mean the difference between injury and fatality."
A key component to motorcycle safety is the proper wear of PPE that meets or exceeds the standards set by the Department of Transportation. At Yokota the wear of protective gear is not just a good idea but a legal requirement. AFI 31-218, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, states that a rider must wear, a DOT approved helmet, a full face visor or protective eyewear, long-sleeve top, full length pants, over the ankle boots, full fingered gloves and a contrasting reflective vest. Pimental also advises riders to choose clothes made with abrasion resistant materials and helmets approved by the Snell organization, whose standards are higher than those set by the DOT.
Also important to a riders safety is following the laws of the road. Excessive speed is the leading cause of fatal accidents with over 70 percent of those occurring in 2011, where the rider was going 50 miles per hour or faster.
Riding a motorcycle can be an enjoyable mode of transportation, but only when safety measures are taken. For more information on motorcycle safety Pimental can be contacted at 225-8494.