News: Motorcyclists stand-down; Riders refresh knowledge of safety regulations
Story by Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Marines, sailors and civilians from across Okinawa attended the motorcycle safety stand-down at the Camp Foster Theater Nov. 4.
The stand-down is held semiannually to ensure motorcycle riders abide by Japanese and Marine Corps safety regulations when operating motorcycles on island.
“The reason we do this is to enhance the awareness of the riders out here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher G. Lowman, the assistant security manager for 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and president of the installation riding club. “Riding here is a lot different than back in the states because of the rules, composition of the road and driving on the opposite side of the road.”
Military personnel, family members and Department of Defense civilian employees who drive motorcycles in Japan must first obtain a status of forces agreement driver’s license and motorcycle license, according to Lowman.
SOFA driver’s license holders must attend one of the two briefs each year, said Lowman.
Guest speakers at the stand-down included 1st Lt. Drew D. Martinolich, communications officer with Marine Wing Communication Squadron 18, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Air Wing, III MEF, and Rob Hephner, an instructor for the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, located in Gilbert, Ariz.
Martinolich, who suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident last September, began the stand-down by sharing his story.
“It was probably the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, but I know for a fact it was not the bike’s fault. It was my own,” said Martinolich. “Even though it’s uncomfortable riding with a jacket and a full-faced helmet, I would not be standing here today without [them].”
While Martinolich spoke of his survival story and about the importance of personal protective equipment, Hephner presented a class on riding techniques, including traction management, throttle control, trail braking and body positioning.
“I could stand up here and teach all day, but knowledge without proper application is useless,” said Hephner. “Motorcycle riders need to apply the lessons learned during these classes to ensure they are safe on the road.”