WASHINGTON D.C. - Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month kicks off with the fourth annual Pentagon Motorcycle Safety Event at 8 a.m. Friday in the Pentagon North Parking Lot.

In 2008, the Joint Service Safety Council identified motorcycle safety as the top non-combatant safety issue facing the military. Accidents and fatalities steadily rose. Since then the military has reversed the trend through training and education; accidents and fatalities have decreased.

But motorcycle safety remains a top safety issue.

Indeed, the Pentagon Motorcycle Safety Event is part of a yearlong effort to remind riders of road dangers. It is an Army-led, Department of Defense-wide event, with participation from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and every military branch.

This year's event will feature the Marine Corps' "Semper Ride" movie, performances by professional riders from the California Superbike School, booths showcasing motorcycle safety initiatives and a rally with the following.

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Installation Management Command, and IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola both are avid motorcyclists. As commander of Fort Hood, Texas, Lynch implemented mandatory motorcycle refresher training for bikers returning from a deployment, with participants finding the general sitting in the front row.

Due to a scheduling conflict, Lynch is unable to attend Friday's event; Ciotola will represent the command.

"We are the most mobile society in humanity; we just don't put enough emphasis on rider safety," said Ciotola. "We can never give our people enough formal training. It is through formal training that we save lives."

Lt. Gen. David Huntoon, director of the Army Staff, strongly encourages participation by Soldiers, family members, civilian employees and leaders at all levels of command assigned to the D.C. area - especially those who own or ride motorcycles.

Participating servicemembers will be considered to be at their place of duty Friday. If mission permits, Army civilians may be granted an excused absence to attend as well.

For more information on this event, go to www.militarysaferide.com