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Air Guard emphasizes motorcycle safety awareness on, off duty

The no-zone truck reveals blind spots of tractor-trailer drivers during Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

The no-zone truck reveals blind spots of tractor-trailer drivers during Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A focus on safety awareness was emphasized here April 14 at the 139th Airlift Wing as summer approached and outdoor activities increased.

The Wing Safety Office held their annual motorcycle safety briefing at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base with a video on the dangers of texting while driving. It's an effort to decrease off-duty vehicle accidents, they said, amidst a rising trend in Airmen-related vehicle accidents.

Cell phone use while driving is a major concern for the Air Guard, Lt. Col. Doug Proctor, chief of safety, explained.

The video showed the graphic outcomes of driving while texting, which can happen regardless of how short the text message is or how often the driver views their texts.

"Texting and driving is very dangerous, and whether you realize it or not, it affects your ability to drive safely," said Proctor. "You can't see the road, which makes it even more difficult to react to dangerous situations quickly and safely."

Staff Sgt. Aaron Cluck, aircraft propulsion mechanic, then discussed the time-honored aspects of motorcycle safety, such as wearing protective gear, performing pre-ride inspections, accessing risk factors as well as knowing personal limitations and skill level.

Cluck, an avid motorcyclist for 10 years, began promoting motorcycle safety to Airmen here two years ago, after an accident.

"Three years ago, my wife and I were in a serious accident because someone wasn't paying attention," said Cluck. "I have an invested interest in motorcycle safety, and I take it personally."

"Motorcycle riding is a dangerous activity, but using the proper gear and knowing your limitations ... can prevent the likelihood of an accident," said Proctor. "Also, it is important to brief your passenger, because this affects your balance."

In accordance with Department of Defense Instruction 6055.04 and Air Force Instruction 91-207, Airmen must complete an approved motorcycle safety rider course to operate on roadways and Air Force installations.
Safety courses are offered at the following Motorcycle Safety Foundation area training facilities: Hillyard Technical Center; Rolling Wheels Training Center; Metropolitan Community College; and the Fort Leavenworth Safety Office.

Motorcycle safety information is also available at the Safety Office, 816-236-3444.

That all aside, Col. Dave Halter, commander of the 139th Operations Group, said motorcycle safety is fundamental to personal health and safety.
"You don't win against a four-wheel vehicle," said Halter. "Drive defensively, drive smart."