Motorcycle Deaths are on the Rise, but why?

  • Published
  • By Lisa Gonzales
  • Air Force Safety Center

Calling all Airmen, Guardians, supervisors, and family members to call a “knock it off” for motorcycle riders. This is not to keep them from riding, but to urge them to wear their riding gear every time they ride, keep to the speed limit, and avoid drinking and riding.

It is imperative for new riders to take the appropriate training and experienced riders to take refresher trainings when necessary. All riders should take time before they ride to practice low speed work, check the weather, be mentally prepared to ride before getting on the bike and encourage other riders to use risk management.

In fiscal year 2023, the Department of the Air Force lost 22 people to motorcycle accident and have suffered another two only six days into the new fiscal year. That is 24 families, friends, co-workers suffering the death of their loved ones and many more who knew them. The leading causes of those fatalities were speeding, alcohol and lack of or no training.

The data for the past 10 years shows that motorcycle fatalities are consistently in the double digits apart from 2017 with six fatalities, 2019 with four fatalities, and 2022 with eight.

The Air Force Safety Center has multiple motorcycle safety videos and articles available to Airmen, Guardians, civilian employees, and their family members educating riders on motorcycle techniques, personal protective gear, the use of risk management and to prepare mentally for the ride. It has also conducted and will continue to conduct roadshows across the globe hoping to stop the increase of motorcycle mishaps and fatalities.

“We have worked hard to promote motorcycle safety over the last few years, yet still see an unprecedented rise in high-risk riding behavior and blatant disregard for the military rider requirements,” said David Brandt, Department of the Air Force motorcycle program manager. “Managing risks while riding allows us to enjoy what we do and arrive alive. I urge riders to be mentally prepared to ride, wear personal protective equipment, slow down, don’t drink then ride, and don’t ride outside of your skill level. It’s an individual decision that could save your life!”

Military members are taught structure, teamwork, resiliency, responsibility, and risk management. Mentorship at all levels is encouraged as it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up when something doesn’t look right. We must enforce building a positive safety culture from within our organizations. If we leave it to the next person or the next leader, then we fail our subordinates, and we fail ourselves.

Start the conversations that may save someone’s life. See Something, Do Something … Live to be Lethal!