HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Aircraft Mechanic Cody Dayton has been riding his Yamaha V Star motorcycle only for a month, but has already noticed how dangerous it can be as a rider, with very few drivers paying attention to motorcyclists on the road.“People just don’t see you. It doesn’t matter how many reflector belts I have on, they still pull out in front of me and I’m lucky enough to stop in time,” Dayton said.
Now with the warmer weather, motorcyclists are out in full force, though drivers have become accustomed to not seeing motorcycles on the roads through the winter months. It was time to remind everyone, so the base motorcycle safety program hosted a Motorcycle Rodeo on base recently.
“Most of the time when people see this many riders in one place or out on the road, this puts out the message that they need to look twice and look for motorcycles before pulling out or making a left turn,” Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Allan Woods said.
Motorcycle safety training is mandatory for all military members who ride motorcycles on base. Civilians aren’t required, but advised to get the same training. Prior to the rodeo was a preseason briefing detailing why motorcycle safety is important and reminding riders of the rules motorcyclists must follow when riding on base, where the laws are more stringent.
Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club Vice President Hazam Peralta said the rodeo reinforced those safety guidelines, while also exchanging ideas and lessons learned.
“This gives a younger rider like me (a chance) to ask more seasoned riders questions, so there is a lot of learning in a calm, neutral environment where we are tangibly and socially reinforcing what was taught at the preseason briefing meeting,” Peralta said.
The Green Knights helped sponsor the event to augment the safety program on base and collect donations to support the safety program. Hill Riders Association Emeritus President Jerry Wilcox said one of the unique factors about riding a motorcycle in and around Hill Air Force Base is the fact that hundreds of active-duty military transfer to Utah on a regular basis, and many of them don’t know how to ride in the mountains.
“We teach them how to look for animals jumping out in front of them or how to avoid rocks from landslides,” Wilcox said. “However, the biggest problem is that people don’t see us.”
Hill AFB actually has very few accidents on base involving motorcycles, which Woods credits to the required safety foundation courses. With over 1,600 motorcyclists on base, the classes are always well-attended Woods said.
“The military is pretty diligent with their training, which is free of charge and held during their work time, so they are getting paid to attend class,” Woods said.
Hill AFB has one of the strongest motorcycle programs in the Air Force worldwide.
Classes offered include a beginner basic rider course, a basic rider refresher course, a returning rider course, and an advanced and sport bike rider course.