SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - After spending months in the pressure cooker, known as a combat zone, many Soldiers find solace in the simple freedom of a motorcycle ride once home. Unfortunately, what begins as a carefree weekend ride sometimes ends in roadside tragedy.

In an effort to curb these occurrences, the Army has implemented measures to promote safe and proper motorcycle operation, the motorcycle safety course here serves as one such measure.

"It is an Army-wide policy that all Soldiers, prior to operating a motorcycle, attend an approved Army motorcycle safety course," said Dan Vancil, lead instructor for the Army Traffic Safety Program.

The motorcycle safety course here, offers three courses for motorcycle riders, including a basic rider's, an experienced rider's and an evaluation course.

"The basic rider's course is aimed at beginner and novice riders. The main purpose of the course is to give new motorcycle riders a chance to get accustomed to riding," said Grant Kobayashi, course instructor. "Learning to ride from a friend in a parking lot is a lot different because it's easy to pick up a lot of bad habits that way. We try to teach riders the right way in this course."

Although motorcyclists may have many years of riding experience, the course instructors say there is always something new to learn.

"Riding a motorcycle is a continuous learning experience," said Walter Oda, a motorcycle instructor with more than 20 years experience as a ride coach. "It's even more rewarding when experienced riders tell us that after taking the course they learned a better way of doing things."

The evaluation course is another way to ensure motorcycle safety, said Kobayashi, and whenever a Soldier buys a new, more powerful motorcycle, it is mandatory that they take this course.

"Going from a 250cc to a 750cc (sized-motorcycle) is a huge leap, and it is important that we evaluate their proficiency with their new ride," Kobayashi explained.

"It has been proven that most motorcycle accidents are not among beginner riders," he said.

Most accidents take place among riders with at least two years of experience. The other consistency is that most of the riders only had six months of experience with the motorcycle they were riding."

The program's ultimate goal is to save lives.

"Riding a motorcycle is a specialized skill and, just as Soldiers train to keep their war fighting skills sharp, they must also make sure their riding skills are just as sharp," Vancil said.

For additional information on the Schofield Barracks Motorcycle Safety Course, e-mail <a href="mailto:william.n.maxwell@us.army.mil">william.n.maxwell@us.army.mil</a> or call 808-655-6746.

Page last updated Fri August 20th, 2010 at 16:53