News: U.S. Army Central educates Soldiers on motorcycle safety
By Sgt. Beth Lake
U.S. Army Central Public Affairs
FT. MCPHERSON, HABEVILLE, GA. - According to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Safety Center, the Army lost 43 Soldiers to motorcycle accidents in 2007. Four months into 2008, the Army has already lost seven.
These numbers may rise as the weather gets warmer and the urge to hit the open road heightens.
The U.S. Army Central sponsored its second annual Motorcycle Safety Day April 25 to raise awareness of the dangers that exist for riders.
"We held this class to get our motorcycle personnel more educated and safety conscious," said Master Sgt. Darryl Tutt, USARCENT Special Troops Battalion Safety non-commissioned officer in charge.
The class was designed to go above and beyond the normal motorcycle safety course and ranged from new riders who have been on a bike under six months to those who have been riding for 20 years, said Lt. Col. Greg McAfee, USARCENT STB commander.
"When a motorcycle goes down you don't have much room for error," McAfee said. "We are doing as much as possible to ensure Soldiers are properly educated and armed with the proper resources to ride safely."
Throughout the day, participants were given instructions on road safety, how to wear riding gear properly, and conducting preventive maintenance checks and services. They also heard from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation on specific maneuvers and the warning signs to look for to know when something is wrong with their bike.
"Safety is a top priority at USARCENT. The number of motorcycle riders has increased over the past year. We must enforce safety on a daily basis. The more we educate our riders the more safety conscious they become. This day will keep safety on Soldiers' minds," said Tutt. "They are Soldiers both in and out of uniform.... safety is one of the biggest factors in surviving both on and off the battlefield."
Staff Sgt. Aaron Crawford, U.S. Army Central Headquarters and Headquarters Company G3, NCOIC, has been riding for less than a year. He enjoyed hearing Georgia State Police Senior Trooper Stacy Forrest's stories about riders who have done things that are in direct violation of the law and the results of bad decisions.
Forrest spoke about speed being a factor in most accidents and the importance of being aware on the road.
For more experienced riders such as Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Amos, STB S4, NCOIC, who has been riding for 20 years, the class was an opportunity to share ideas and ask questions but also a reminder not to become complacement.
"We are all Soldiers," Amos said. "You need to be able to enforce safety as much as possible if you are a motorcycle rider just as you would if you were getting ready to go to combat."
Command Sgt. Major Charles Holliday, STB command sergeant major, emphasized the importance of Soldiers having the same discipline while riding on a motorcycle as they are taught to have on a daily basis in the Army.
"You can't put a time or a date on when you want to be a professional," Holliday said. "You have to be a professional at all times. Remember that you are too important to the family, the Army family and your family. Take extra precautions to ensure that you ride safe."
Tutt added that it will become second nature to perform pre checks before riding, ensuring riders have on the proper personal protective equipment and ensuring that they obey all rules and regulations of the road. "We don't want another statistic."
In addition to the motorcycle safety day, USARCENT safety office is instilling many things to ensure they are on the cutting edge of safety awareness and education:
Certified Trainers: Soldiers will be able to be certified through the motorcycle
safety foundation's course so they can then certify new riders.
Motorcycle simulator: USARCENT is looking into bringing in a motorcycle simulator that will introduce riders to dangerous situations and allow them to learn how they need to react.
Motorcycle mentorship program: A motorcycle mentorship program is being
formed to forge relationships between new riders and more experienced riders
Group Rides: USARCENT is looking into bringing the military community together for group rides. These rides will teach the steps involved in preparing for and conducting a group ride while emphasizing the importance of safety.