Fort McCoy News May 24, 2013

Motorcycle Safety Month encourages responsibility

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center) — May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and while the nationwide campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges drivers to "share the road" with motorcyclists, Army officials are placing greater emphasis on personal responsibility while riding.

In general, motorcycle accidents within the Army do not follow national trends, according to Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.

PHOTO for motorcycle safety article
Soldiers at Fort McCoy participate in an Experienced Riders Course for motorcyclists. The next Experienced Riders Course for Soldiers will be offered June 19. Soldiers who want to ride motorcycles on Fort McCoy must take the training before doing so. For more information, call the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-7712. Photo by Rob Schuette

"Historically, most fatal motorcycle accidents involving Soldiers are single vehicle," Edens said, explaining that nationally, many riders are killed when other drivers do not allow them room to maneuver in time to prevent a collision.

"Even when we've lost Soldiers in multi-vehicle accidents, it's often been the direct result of indiscipline on the Soldier's part: alcohol use, excessive speed or lack of personal protective equipment," he added.

Army accident data show that speeding and other forms of reckless riding, neglecting to wear personal protective equipment, and failure to complete required training are among the most common indiscipline-based errors Soldier riders make. Alarmingly, leaders and Soldiers over the age of 25 have comprised the majority of rider fatalities during the past several fiscal years.

Although motorcycle fatalities have fallen markedly in 2013 — current statistics indicate a 59 percent decrease as compared to this time last year — officials expect numbers to rise through the end of summer.

"We've had a great year so far, but it's also been a long winter in many places," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard D. Stidley, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center. "As the weather warms and more riders hit the road, their risk is going to increase. Managing it is key to staying alive for another riding season."

The Army-mandated Progressive Motorcycle Program (PMP), which promotes lifelong learning through staggered riding courses based on proven practices from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), is now in its second year and has received positive reviews from Soldiers.

A complement to that training, the Motorcycle Mentorship Program (MMP), is already well established and boasts chapters in 48 states. The MMP pairs novice riders with experienced motorcyclists to foster an environment where enthusiasts continually learn from and keep one another safe.

The MMP at Fort McCoy is responsibility of the Garrison Command Sergeant Major's office, which can be contacted at 608-388-3605.

Patriot Warrior Riders is the private organization that supports the MMP on Fort McCoy.

Soldiers at Fort McCoy also can take free MSF courses at the installation. More information is available by calling the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-7712 or visiting the website www.ridesafewi.com.

"The PMP and MMP are just two of the great programs the Army has in place," Edens said. "It's incumbent upon leaders to ensure their riders know about them, get the proper training and ride responsibly. We now have an entire month dedicated to motorcycle safety, so there's no excuse for not getting a head start on summer."

Stidley said leaders also should remember their Soldiers are watching.

"Discipline and responsibility are not a function of rank," he said. "Leaders are just as accountable to the standard as their

Soldiers, and they should be setting the example."

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.