This May, our Army will observe Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's national campaign to keep riders safe on our nation's highways. The increasing number of registered motorcycles on Army installations shows more and more Soldiers are discovering the freedom and excitement of riding. This hobby comes with significant risks, however, and all Soldiers should be aware the most dangerous hazard they encounter on the road could be themselves.

Our Army lost 45 Soldiers in motorcycle accidents during fiscal 2011, and more than 70 percent of those accidents were attributed to rider error. Sport bike riders accounted for a disproportionate share of the fatalities. Indiscipline -- primarily speeding, other forms of reckless riding and failure to wear personal protective equipment -- has been an ongoing trend in motorcycle accidents, and we must face the issue head on. Standards are in force 24/7, and indiscipline cannot be tolerated simply because a Soldier is off duty.

As Leaders and fellow Soldiers, we have a responsibility to ensure our riders recognize the risks and remain disciplined on their bikes. Engagement through standards enforcement is the most crucial element of motorcycle safety. Leaders should talk to their Soldiers and vigilantly guard against high-risk behavior. They should also make clear the expectation that all riding standards outlined in Army Regulation 385-10 are followed both on and off post.

Recent changes to AR 385-10 require all Soldier riders to complete the Progressive Motorcycle Program, which staggers training at specific intervals to refresh and build riding skills. Leaders should contact their garrison safety office to schedule training for their riders. In addition to training, the Motorcycle Mentorship Program is a proven method of reinforcing safe riding behavior. Many installations have active MMP chapters, and we highly encourage riders of all ranks to join their local organization and learn from one another.

Safety is never just a date on a calendar, but there is no better time than now to engage with your Soldiers on the critical importance of safe riding. Take advantage of the campaign materials on NHTSA's website at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles and the tools available on the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center's homepage, https://safety.army.mil, to complete your unit's motorcycle safety toolkit.

ARMY SAFE IS ARMY STRONG!

Page last updated Wed April 18th, 2012 at 15:50