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Base hosts motorcycle safety course

Course is conducted four times per month on flightline

Tech. Sgt. Carlos Damian puts on proper motorcycle riding gear before going out on a ride. /Airman 1st Class Leah Young

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(62nd AW PA) - Now that summer has arrived, the temperatures will rise and motorcyclists will surely take advantage of the prime riding weather. While the riders enjoy their hobby, the Air Force is determined to keep them safe.

"I'd rather sweat than bleed," said Tech. Sgt. Carlos Damian, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron wing sports bike representative and teacher of the advanced sport bike course offered on JBLM. "That's why I wear all of my gear."

According to the Air Force Safety Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., motorcycle fatalities have risen 150 percent from January to March 2011, compared to the same period last year.

"A good portion of motorcycle crashes are due to people's unfamiliarity with their bikes," said Damian. "People underestimate how fast these things can go."

Damian is one of many instructors who teach the motorcycle safety course at JBLM. The Air Force safety initiative mandates that all servicemembers complete an approved motorcycle safety rider course. Department of Defense employees and Government Service civilians must take the course to operate their bikes on a military installation.

"The basic class teaches you how to be a smart and safe motorcycle rider," said Damian. "It's very informative and helpful for riders of all skill levels. Even people who have been riding for years learn something from it."

The class is conducted four times per month at the Echo ramp on McChord Field. Members of JBLM can sign up for the class through their unit motorcycle safety representatives.

According to Tech. Sgt. Herman Rodriguez, 62nd Airlift Wing Airman Leadership School instructor and unit motorcycle safety representative, the class covers a wide range of topics including protective clothing and situational awareness.

"When it comes to your safety, it's worth spending that little bit of extra money to ensure you're getting quality protective gear," said Sergeant Rodriguez. "We teach you what you need to wear and what to be aware of while riding."

Both Damian and Rodriguez recommend riders wear Department of Transportation approved helmets, along with complete coverage from the neck down to include a long-sleeve jacket, thick pants, boots and gloves. Also, reflective belts are mandatory items to be worn on base by everyone at all times. Off base, they are only mandatory for Servicemembers.

Team JBLM riders are required to follow Army Regulation 385-55, Prevention of Motor Vehicle Accidents, for clear guidance on motorcycle safety. Riders can also review Air Force Instruction 91-207, Traffic Safety Program, for further guidance.

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