Mentorship and New Perspectives Create Dover’s Motorcycle Program

By MS. ARYN KITCHELL, Staff Writer

For five years, the Airmen of Dover AFB, DE, have celebrated zero Class A or B motorcycle mishaps. On a base with 300 motorcycle riders, this is no small feat. This accomplishment took an excellent safety program, a hands-on safety team, and a little bit of luck to make it happen.

Sgt Kenneth Reid, 436th Airlift Wing Occupational Safety and Wing Motorcycle Safety representative, spoke about why he thinks Dover’s program has been so successful. He particularly wanted to stress the benefits of their Motorcycle Safety Days—held in mid-April—and their mentorship program.

“Our Motorcycle Safety Days are a big part of what we do. And you know we like to reach out to other communities and vendors,” said Reid. Dover often invites speakers and other vendors, such as race drivers, to come and speak to their Airmen about safety on their Motorcycle Safety Day, but they also make it an enjoyable day for their riders. For example, if they invite a local motorcycle dealership, the dealership will provide different motorcycles for the Airmen to ride. They also pass out freebies like t-shirts and T-CLOCS (safety pre-check cards).

For their mentorship program, Dover has created a layer of motorcycle representatives in each of their squadrons who help extend the reach of their Safety Office. Those men and women take the initiative to mentor the riders underneath them in their squadrons, usually by choosing which safety modules to teach and how they want to teach them. For Reid, this creates a hands-on culture that lets him know as a safety leader which units are involved with their members and which members ride motorcycles.

Reid also thinks the mentorship program has a lot to do with keeping his 300 riders up to date on their certifications. “If you don’t have the right type of mentorship in the squadron, it [staying certified] can go by the wayside,” he noted. The motorcycle representatives reach out to those in their squadrons who need to update their training and ensure the recertification is done.

One of the things the Motorcycle Safety Office teaches their mentors is to get to know their riders and reach out to them often. “What we do by mentoring is we try to make sure to get everybody together quarterly,” said Reid. Gathering everyone is important for the mentors. Then there is the job of making contact monthly, at least by email, said Reid. This contact is to have a conversation, see if the rider needs anything, and make sure they are not overdue on any training.

Dover has a working relationship with the Delaware DMV, which is conveniently only 20 minutes down the road from Dover AFB, said Reid. Those riders who want to go the extra mile and become a rider coach go to the DMV and are trained to teach other riders the DMV motorcycle safety course. These rider coaches can then retrain Airmen at Dover AFB, rather than having to send every rider to the DMV for retraining.

Like their Motorcycle Safety Days, the team at Dover also likes to organize morale rides. For a morale ride, Dover bikers get together and go on a 30-minute ride, but prior to the ride, the rider coach gives the riders safety training. According to Reid, the rider coach chooses whichever modules from the DMV course program they want to teach. “They talk safety for a little bit, and you know, enjoy each other and have fun,” he said.

As for Reid, he takes great care to not ignore any of the “near misses” that have happened at Dover. He clarified that some accidents were recordable, which means a rider had to submit a mishap report, but since the rider did not receive anything more than first aid medical attention, it is filed as a different kind of report, not a Class A or B mishap. “You can either say, ‘Okay, well I’m just going to file this,’ and you never speak to the guy. Instead what you should be doing is going to reach out to that person and say, ‘Hey, why or how did this happen?’”

A lot of the time, those riders will admit their near misses were from complacency, Reid said. That contact has become a great tool for Reid and the team to learn when people have developed bad trends and habits. By identifying those trends and habits and creating a strong mentorship program, he hopes his riders have learned to check their bad habits at the door. “When you ignore mishaps, that’s when they can actually come to fruition,” he said.

As for what makes him proud of his job, Reid noted that, at first, he did not know anything about motorcycle safety, as he is not a rider himself. However, after his first Motorcycle Safety Day, he saw how much riders value what he and his team were doing for them. “Honestly, it’s a whole bunch of work that sometimes you would rather not do, but the end result makes you feel appreciated,” Reid said. For him, he enjoys seeing all his hard work pay off and being recognized by the many riders on base.

Since he’s not a rider, motorcycles are not necessarily a passion for him, he mentioned. Going through his experience of being a part of the Dover Motorcycle Safety Program, however, has made him admire riding and see the need and necessity for motorcycle safety measures. He thinks it is possible he may look at motorcycle programs differently than other safety representatives who are riders, but he also noted he has seen the passion really come through safety representatives who do ride motorcycles. Both riders and non-riders give different perspectives, he said, and together they are able to meld everything together into Dover’s very successful Motorcycle Safety Program.