News: Semper Ride visits the 'Big Easy,' assists service members making safe riding easier
Story by Lance Cpl. Marcin Platek
NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE NEW ORLEANS, La. – Three years ago, the Marine Corps faced bump in road: a record high of 25 Marines died due to motorcycle accidents. The Marine Corps outlined its solution in the MARADMIN 707/08. With the required safety training classes put in place for beginners and advanced riders, the motorcycle-related fatalities in 2010 dropped to nine.
Aiming to continue the trend of decreasing casualties, Marine Forces Reserve safety office teamed with Semper Ride, a program designed to keeping Marines safe on motorcycles, to hold a motorcycle safety track day at the airfield here Sept. 17.
The active-duty and Reserve Marines can train in the new Marine Forces Reserve Center for Safety Excellence motorcycle training facility that opened here this year. However, the Semper Ride coming to town for the first time has brought attention to service members about available training not just for beginners but also more advanced riders.
“A highway is not a place to show off,” said Jeff Peters, MarForRes director of safety. “Service members take it upon them to go out there, be aggressive, and ride in environments the required basic rider course has not prepared them for. “
“This is a place to do it, at a controlled and safe environment and get real experience that would decrease the cause of mishaps out there,” said Peters.
“We’re providing a venue to provide hands-on real lessons in a fun environment,” Peters added. “What we’re doing is improving their skills by having fun while training.”
The event covered topics to help out intermediate riders by instructing them in a classroom setting first and then taking them to the airfield to receive one-on-one coaching from the 19 professional instructors present.
According to Lee Parks, director of Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, a company that is helping out Semper Rides events, their main focus is the cornering technique because it is the primary cause single-vehicle motorcycle crashes. To stress the importance and aid in the understanding of properly negotiating a turn, instructors demonstrated fundamentals like suspension selection, line selection, throttle control, throttle-to-break transition, body position, and mental attitude.
The ongoing education for motorcycle riders is crucial because of the number of deaths caused by motorcycle accidents, said Peters. Even though this year the number of motorcycle deaths is lower than the number of automobile deaths for the first in a long time, there is still not enough education to help out intermediate riders.
“None of the deaths were Reserves,” said Peters, who sponsored the event here. “But because our mishap rates are so low, if we get one death here, that looks like a 100 percent increase on paper. The training for Reservists is vital to preventing any mishaps from happening."
“It’s a major deal for Reservists because these events happen at the east coast and west coast major military installations, but this is the first time it happened here,” said Cpl. Charlee Law, who attended the event. She is the MarForRes Motorcycle Club Secretary and a Reserve administration clerk with the MarForRes safety office.
“We are all required to do the same training, active or Reserve Marines,” she said.
Many Marines attended the event to meet the motorcycle-training requirements. However, the joint environment of the base brought other service members as well.
“We have Marines, sailors, Army National Guard and Coast Guard attending,” said Peters. “Because we receive great support from the Navy by allowing us to use their facilities, we have other services attending.”
Among the service members from other branches who received a chance to attend Semper Ride training event was Navy Petty Officer 3rd class Reginald T. Wilos, a hospital corpsman from the medical clinic here.
“I loved the course,” said Wilos. “It’s good that they introduced other stuff than in the Mlitary Sport-bike Rider Course, like trail braking, decreasing turns with higher angles, and more importantly how to control the throttle and adjust suspension.” said Wilos about the various riding techniques he practiced.
“The adjustments were great because they made the bike feel like a whole different machine,” he said.
Active duty and Reserve Marines can attend motorcycle training in the new Marine Forces Reserve Center for Safety Excellence facility here, which officially opened earlier this year. Reserve Marines should contact with their unit’s ground safety manager to schedule a motorcycle safety training classes. If local training is not available, Marines may be allowed to travel to New Orleans in order to complete their required training. For any questions please first call unit’s ground safety manager or and then MarForRes safety office.
This work, Semper Ride visits the 'Big Easy,' assists service members making safe riding easier, by Cpl Marcin Platek, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.