Are you ready for the 101 Critical Days of Summer?

101 Critical Days of Summer graphic (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Amber Russell)

101 Critical Days of Summer graphic (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Amber Russell)

The 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day of each year. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Manuel Martins)

The 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day of each year. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Manuel Martins)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Are you ready for the 101 Critical Days of Summer? Unfortunately, 16 Airmen were not ready last year during the period from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Some were reckless and demonstrated poor decision making, while a few were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Common factors in many of these incidents were driving at a high rate of speed, alcohol and failure to wear seatbelts. This year's official dates of the 101 CDS are May 27 through Sept. 6. Since fiscal year 2002, the U.S. Air Force has lost 218 Airmen during this period (201 off-duty, 17 on-duty).

2011 has also been designated the "Year of Motorcycle Safety" by Terry A. Yonkers, Assistant Secretary, Installations, Environment and Logistics, and General Philip M. Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff. Both are avid motorcycle riders and released a memo dated on April 9, stressing the importance of motorcycle safety, mentorship and training.

Motorcycle fatalities Air Force wide are up 150 percent since January compared to the previous year. An important quote they made is about leadership is: "Commanders and supervisors...your leadership is crucial! Motorcycle safety mentorship is more important than simple e-mail notices and must include face-to-face time with your Airman riders. Senior leaders and senior riders must be in front of this program to ensure that wing-level activities foster positive riding attitudes, behaviors, and build necessary
riding experience."

If you are a military member, it is mandatory to complete a basic rider course and commander's briefing, and have a state motorcycle endorsement. Civilians riding in a duty status are also required to have the training and endorsement.

Here are some motorcycle safety tips to keep in mind as we enter the 101 Critical Days of Summer:
  • A motorcyclist has to be more careful and aware at intersections where most motorcycle/vehicle mishaps occur
  • Motorcyclists must remain visible to other motorists at all times. Don't ride in a car's blind spot.
  • Anticipate what may happen. For example, anticipate that drivers backing their cars out of driveways won't see you. Also, place greater emphasis on defensive driving.
  • Motorcyclists must be more cautious when riding in inclement weather, on slippery surfaces, or when encountering obstacles on the roadway.
  • Motorcyclists must place greater reliance on their helmet, eye protection and clothing to increase riding comfort and to reduce the severity of injury should they become involved in a motorcycle mishap.
  • Approximately half of all fatal single-vehicle motorcycle mishaps involve alcohol. A motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car. Riding a motorcycle while under the influence of any amount of alcohol significantly decreases an operator's ability to operate the motorcycle safely.
  • An estimated one-third of motorcyclists killed in traffic mishaps are not licensed or are improperly licensed to operate a motorcycle. By not obtaining a motorcycle operator license, riders are bypassing the only method they and state licensing agencies have to ensure they have the knowledge and skill needed to safely and skillfully operate a motorcycle.
Some causes of motorcycle mishaps:
  • Lack of basic riding skills
  • Failure to appreciate the inherent operating
  • characteristics
  • Failure to appreciate the limitations of the motorcycle
  • Failure to use special precautions while riding
  • Failure to use defensive driving techniques
  • Lack of specific braking and cornering skills
  • Failure to follow speed limit
About accidents, many of us think, "It can't happen to me." But last year, we lost 16 Airmen who also thought it couldn't happen to them. If you have any questions about the 101 CDS or any other safety concern, contact me at the wing safety office at 655-4481. 

Motorcycle safety tips are from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

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