Sailors review two-wheel skills, safety
NAVAL AIR FACILITY MISAWA, Japan — Navy leaders ordered motorcycle riders here to attend a hands-on refresher course following a recent motorcycle crash and the resumption of the riding season.
About 40 sailors stationed with the Air Force on Misawa Air Base must undergo the training, according to NAF Misawa safety manager Jeffrey Wilson. The Navy training is on top of the Air Force requirements that any rider, regardless of service, must complete if stationed at this remote base in northern Japan.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Stevens, 27, had about four months’ riding experience last summer before the season ended. He started slowly this season, attending the Air Force safety briefings in April and riding with the Navy’s motorcycle mentor, Chief Petty Officer Eric Holewinski.
But when a van pulled out in front of him in an off-base intersection May 8, Stevens didn’t have time to react, and he smashed into the vehicle, somersaulting through the air and crashing onto the concrete surface.
He said he was lucky that he only broke his left wrist and one knuckle on his right hand.
Because of the heavy snows in the Misawa area, motorcycles can be operated only from April to November, with exact dates based on the weather. Safety officials said that since Misawa’s riders can go as long as five months between rides, crucial skills can be lost.
Wilson said he wanted the training to be hands-on instead of in a classroom setting.
“I’ve been around for a long time, and motorcycle safety is one of the hardest things to manage,” he said. “You can tell young sailors until you’re blue in the face,” but the hands-on training more effectively drives home the message.