News: Safety First: Lifeliners conduct Motorcycle Safety training
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Although she's been riding motorcycles for two years, Staff Sgt. Lanita Simon decided it was time to take a motorcycle safety course.
The increase in the number of motorcycle-related traffic accidents in the Clarksville area is what prompted her decision, she said.
"It's very important around here, especially riding around 41-A and seeing all these accidents. Taking this class teaches you the basics of motorcycle riding, from having your gear to understanding and watching the speed limits," said Simon, a Supply non-commissioned officer in charge, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 101st Sustainment Brigade.
For those of us not in the know, May is designated as Motorcycle Awareness Month, and the brigade is doing its part to ensure their soldiers who own the two-wheeled vehicles do not become another statistic by conducting a Motorcycle Safety training course for its riders. The training is part of the brigade' Motorcycle Mentorship Program.
The unit coordinated the event with the Clarksville and Oak Grove Police Departments, which included classes on recent trends and analysis, motorcycle inspections, and concluding with a brigade ride into Kentucky.
According to Brigade Safety Manager Gordon Morgan, there are approximately 165 soldiers in the brigade who are identified as motorcycle owners. He said the brigade's motorcycle mentors are behind the safety program, ensuring that new riders (as well as some veterans) understand the importance of operating their vehicles safely.
"As we know, this is perfect riding season as we go into the summer season, and we want to teach them to do the right thing," Morgan said. "Classes like this reinforce motorcycle safety and you can never do too much."
Master Sgt. Austin Harrold, brigade motorcycle mentor, said the program is geared toward building camaraderie between the riders, as well as reinforcing safety among the group. One of the keys to ensuring this occurs is making sure the bike itself is in top condition.
"It's from top to bottom," he said. "Check tires and the tire pressure; make sure you have the proper fluids in the bikes, the correct amount of oil, hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, etc.
“You want to definitely check the chains to make sure they aren't loose, and make sure the bikes have the prier safety requirements, such as the mirrors. It's mandatory that you have to have two mirrors on your bike. We want to make sure there are no major mechanical defects on your bike," he said.
Brigade leaders said they recognize that many soldiers returning home from combat deployment will purchase a motorcycle, as well as develop the "ten feet tall and invincible" mentality that sometimes goes with it. Harrold said the mentorship program also addresses those issues.
"The most important aspect of this program is the mentors, but also the first line supervisor," he said. "If the supervisor is not a rider himself, we would ask that they help seek out a mentor to help give them proper guidance, especially with the younger guys coming back from downrange.”
“We have to counsel them and they have to attend mandatory classes and take the basic rider course. We want to stress that before they make a purchase so they don't go out there and hurt themselves or worse."