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NEWS | March 9, 2011

JB CHS annual motorcycle safety event - Riding season is here

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

All Joint Base Charleston's military members who drive motorcycles must attend this year's annual motorcycle safety briefing Mar. 25 at 8:30 a.m. at the Joint Base Charleston - Air Base theater.

After the hour-long brief, riders will have the opportunity to participate in a motorcycle mentoring ride throughout the Low Country ending at Marrington Plantation on the JB CHS - Weapons Station.

"Although the safety event is not mandatory for civilians and dependents who ride motorcycles, the motorcycle safety brief is highly recommended," said Stuart Wyatt, 628th Air Base Wing chief of ground safety. "No matter how often you go ride your bike, you'll still learn something."

The motorcycle safety brief will satisfy JB CHS military rider's annual safety requirement.

Approximately 200 bikers participated in last year's safety briefing, and this year the safety office expects at least double that number, said Master Sgt. Robert Carman, 628 ABW Traffic Safety manager.

"This year's safety event is going to be more in-depth and longer than last year's," Sergeant Carman said. "We are going to the North Charleston Coliseum to experience a motorcycle rodeo by the North Charleston Police Department motor patrol. The motor patrol will discuss motorcycle safety tips and South Carolina's motorcycle laws. Then we'll ride up to the Navy's outdoor recreation facility, Short Stay, where we will eat and have a safety briefing from a comedian to put a lighter note on a serious subject."

The topics to be discussed are protective equipment, avoiding accidents, bike maintenance and suspension setup.

"Motorcycles are set up to fit 150 pound riders when you first purchase your bike," Mr. Wyatt said. "If you weight more than 150, your bike's suspension is set up wrong which can cause an accident. We want to make sure you know how to adjust your suspension to fit your size and your style of riding."

Motorcyclists are encouraged to read their motorcycle owner's manuals, or MOMs, in order to become familiar with a bikes operation and to avoid a crash, he said.

"Motorcyclists account for 1 to 2 percent of all military drivers and account for 40 to 50 percent of non-combat related deaths," Mr. Wyatt said.

In 2009 there were more Marines killed riding motorcycles than in combat according to safety records, he said.

"That's a huge concern for the military," Mr. Wyatt said. "Doing annual safety briefings, ensuring the proper training is conducted and safety events like this have lowered the military death rate from military motorcycle accidents. Safety is the number one concern in the motorcycle world and that's why we take it so seriously."

Members of the Air Force Safety Center and the Green Knights will be supporting the event and providing safety briefs.

There will be a bike show for riders to show off their motorcycles. The four categories of bikes will be sport, standard, touring and custom. A plaque will be presented to the 'best of show' bike.

Before the ride, a base chaplain will say a 'blessing of the bikes' to ensure a safe trip, Sergeant Carman said.

"The reason for the ride is to make learning fun," he said. "Yes, we can throw all motorcycle riders in a room and show them a power point presentation on safety, but how many people will actually want to attend? Even though it is mandatory for some, we want to make it as entertaining as possible and full of information. We want to encourage riders to be safe."