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Motorcyclists be aware: Requirements apply on, off base

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- While wearing personal protective equipment may get stuffy and hot, many motorcyclists are required to wear all prescribed gear on and off military installations.

From over-the-ankle boots to a Department of Transportation-standard helmet all military motorcyclists are required to don their head-to-toe gear on and off base. Department of Defense civilians riding in performance of their duties are required to wear their gear, as well. However, the wear of PPE is encouraged for all motorcyclists and passengers.

Department of Defense Instruction 6055.4, DOD Traffic Safety Program, and Air Force Instruction 91-207, The U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program, explain PPE requirements for motorcyclists. Beyond military and DOD civilian members, the instruction also applies to anyone in or on DOD-owned motor vehicles, as well as anyone operating a motorcycle on DOD installations.

According to DOD and Air Force guidelines, motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and three-wheeled vehicle riders should wear the following protective items:

- a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or equivalent, helmet
- goggles, wrap-around glasses or a full face shield
- long sleeves, long pants, and full-fingered gloves or mittens
- wearing abrasion-resistant jacket and pants is highly encouraged
- sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear (no sandals, low quarters, sneakers or similar footwear)

In addition, riders should wear apparel that incorporates high-visibility, fluorescent colors during the day and retro-reflective upper garments at night. Backpacks may be worn if it has highly visible colors and reflective properties.

Many provisions in Colorado state laws are already covered by DOD and Air Force guidelines. However, veteran and novice Colorado riders should also know there are unique stipulations.

Helmets may not be required by Colorado law; however, DOD riders must wear them. All passengers under 18 years old are also required to wear a helmet, regardless of DOD affiliation. Protective eyewear is required for all riders; a windshield does not sufficiently meet this requirement. Bikes must offer, and passengers must utilize, passenger footrests. No passenger may ride in front of the motorcycle operator. Lane sharing with a car is illegal; however, two motorcycles may share a lane.

Motorcycle drivers must obey all the same traffic laws as other motor vehicles on the roadways. Further, motor vehicles should be aware that with better weather, more motorcyclists are hitting the road. Drivers should pay attention to their surroundings while on the road. People should check, and double check, for motorcyclists before turning, merging or otherwise changing positions on the road.

Mostly importantly, ride and drive safely.
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