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Shiny side up: motorcycle mishaps down

The no-zone truck reveals blind spots of tractor-trailer drivers during Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

A tractor-trailer's mirror reveals motorcycles hidden in its blind spots during Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Motorcycles are parked at Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Motorcycles are parked at Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists stay safe on the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Team Dover members participate in a slow-drag competition during April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Team Dover members participate in a slow-drag competition during April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Team Dover members participate in a slow-drag competition during April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Team Dover members participate in a slow-drag competition during April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Members of the Dover, Del., Police Department maneuver their motorcycles through cones April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

Members of the Dover, Del., Police Department maneuver their motorcycles through cones April 13, 2012, during Motorcycle Safety Day at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Motorcycle Safety Day is a yearly event held to ensure riders and motorists are aware of increased safety measures while riding. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Friday the 13th is regarded as a day of bad luck. Yet amidst the hum of sport bike engines racing through the south end of the flightline and the rumble of customized cruisers departing for off-base demo rides, no motorcycle was dropped; no riding attire was scuffed.

Attendees "kept the shiny side up" at the seventh-annual Motorcycle Safety Day April 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Approximately 350 service members, civilians, and local and international venders attended the day's events, which included test rides, riding competitions, safety demonstrations and a chili cook-off. The fun was a means to an end, said Master Sgt. John Willard, the chief organizer of this year's event.

"The day's events were aimed at cultivating the best tool a rider has to keep safe - their mind," said Willard. "It's not an orange safety vest that prevents disaster, it's an educated rider; and by exposing riders to different motorcycles, riding techniques and safety precautions, we are giving our riders information that may one day save a life."

Motorcycle Safety Day fulfills an Air Force requirement to hold an annual motorcycle safety briefing for military riders. However, for the past seven years Dover AFB's motorcycle safety program, run by the 436th Airlift Wing Safety Office, has gone above and beyond that simple requirement.

This year's event proved to be the biggest, most-attended event yet. In addition to test rides of world-class sport bikes, standard bikes and cruisers, riders were treated to a chili cook-off, for which Teddy Pierre and Tiffany Sauler took the top prize.

To support such a diverse offering of attractions, dozens of volunteers and motorcycle dealerships flocked to the motorcycle range to support the crowd of attendees.

"The volunteers and businesses made this event the success it was. We couldn't have done it without them," said Willard. "It was an investment of time and effort that will pay off in lives saved."

This investment has paid off historically for Dover AFB's motorcycling community. Dover AFB has won AMC's best motorcycle safety program of the year four years running. It is one of the largest, most successful military-run all-volunteer programs in the Department of Defense, saving the Air Force thousands of dollars and maintaining a level of quality due to the dedication of the motorcycle safety representatives.

Furthermore, the base's program pays dividends inside and outside Dover AFB by presenting the secondary benefit of raising safety awareness beyond the base gates, said Willard.

"In demonstrating to military riders how seriously the Air Force takes motorcycle safety, we are also telling the local community, 'this matters to us, so keep it in mind while you are on the road.'"