Riders return for Motorcycle Safety Day

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --  More than 200 riders on bikes of all makes, models and varieties, converged on the McKinley Climatic Lab April 14 for the 13th annual Motorcycle Safety Day here.  Approximately 350 more attendees arrived in other means of transportation.

The event returned after a three-year absence due to COVID-19.

Along with Eglin units, military and civilian personnel from Duke and Hurlburt Fields also participated.

“What a way to gather together as a community, call to mind the importance of motorcycle safety and celebrate the freedoms you enjoy as riders,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Geraghty, 96th Test Wing commander in opening remarks.  “I hope you connect with your fellow riders, share the camaraderie and leave with a better understanding of the potential dangers that come with operating a motorcycle.”

Moto day
Moto day
Moto day
Moto day

Representatives from the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club Chapter 89, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Rider Training Program and the Air Force Safety Center, briefed the audience in various areas of motorcycle safety.

Retired Lt. Col. Andy Westman, now the Green Knights club president, spoke first to the attendees.

“The DAF commitment is 100% contact with all unit and squadron motorcycle riders,” he said.  “We want to make sure everyone is trained, has taken their motorcycle safety courses, and has the necessary skills to operate their motorcycles safely.”

The FHP’s Sgt. Chris Nussbaumer said many motorcycle accidents he’s seen in five years of service were at intersections and high-traffic areas.

“In many cases, drivers weren’t paying attention to motorcyclists,” he said.  “Also, the motorcyclists were riding at excessive speeds.”

He said in 2021, there were 50 motorcycle crashes in Okaloosa County.  In 2022, that number rose to 62.

Another briefing covered the Florida Rider Training Program, which offers courses necessary for safe riding on streets and highways; and Ride Smart Florida, an organization that focuses on improving motorcycle safety throughout Florida.

"Florida leads the nation in motorcycle fatalities,” Mike McMillan said.  “Were working diligently to correct that.  I encourage all riders to take advantage of the courses and training opportunities.”

There was also a motorcycle airbag vest demonstration.  The vest is said to reduce blunt force trauma in motorcycle mishaps by 60 percent, according to David Brandt, DAF Motorcycle Safety program manager.

Lt. Col. Dave Welt, 53rd Wing Chief of Safety, delivered closing remarks.

“Motorcycle safety is always one of the hot Air Force topics of safety,” he said.  “We’re happy to gather all riders in our area to learn about the importance of motorcycle safety.   Please be safe and enjoy your rides.”