By Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr.
314th Airlift Wing commander
As the summer heat rises along with gas prices, people are increasingly turning to motorcycles as their chief means of transportation. We have had a few motorcycle mishaps and fatalities already this year, and summer brings more good-weather opportunities to ride on the open road, along with motorists who have forgotten over the winter to be mindful of motorcyclists on the roads again. Here are a few safety tips to remember:
Tip 1: Always wear a helmet and appropriate gear. A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury. Leather clothing, boots, and gloves can protect your body from injuries if you have to skid. Wearing reflective clothes or accessories is a at night as well as during the day.
Tip 2: No matter how good a rider you are, you should always ride defensively. Don’t assume other drivers can see you. Ride with your lights on, stay out of blind spots, and signal well in advance.
Tip 3: Keep your skills honed through constant education. Don’t take the motorcycle course just to fulfill a requirement. Take riding courses every so often to gain experience and sharpen techniques.
Tip 4: Don’t ride if you’ve been drinking, and don’t ride if you are tired. Both intoxication and fatigue impair your ability to react, and motorcyclists must always be alert.
Starting the July 15, yes, just next month, we are directing an important change here at Team Little Rock to supplement AFI 31-204, which outlines specific motorcycle safety requirements. Our changes will require motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a brightly colored, reflective motorcycle vest or jacket while riding on and off base. These changes may seem inconvenient, but they were made with our best interests at heart. We will never be able to count the lives that could potentially be saved.
That being said, just a friendly reminder that points can be assessed towards your driving privileges on the installation. Remember: 12-12-6 is the standard here at Little Rock. If you receive 12 points in 12 months for any reason -- cell use, speeding, not stopping at stop signs, etc. -- your on-base driving privileges will be suspended for six months. Keep in mind cell phone use on base points have gone up; if ticketed, four points will be assessed to your license. It is a safety measure we are serious about. Drive safely, defensively and conscientiously.
Team Little Rock has experienced an undue amount of tragedy in the past few weeks. The adverse consequences of our actions and not doing our absolute best to watch out for our Wingman or other Airmen both on and off duty in general sometimes take us further than we’re willing to go, and keep us longer than we’re willing to stay. During the summer season, let’s press on as we remember how valuable we and the Airmen we fight next to are. Combat Airlift!