By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 16, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Safety was the theme of Friday's Victory Thunder motorcycle rally at Fort Jackson. Dozens of riders took to the roads during the post's annual motorcycle event, traveling from Hilton Field to Weston Lake following detailed briefings on road safety presented by Soldiers and civilians.
Each rider was responsible for taking part in a vehicle inspection prior to the ride, and took part in a discussion about personal safety led by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
"Each individual who's going to participate in the ride has to have a T-CLOCK inspection," said Sgt. 1st. Class Victor Morales, of the 165th Infantry Brigade. "T-CLOCK It stands for tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and kickstand. We want to make sure the bikes are in good condition to ride, because we want to ensure safety."
The event is held during the spring, he said, because this is the season when many motorcyclists return to the roads.
"It's getting warm and Soldiers are going to jump on their bikes," Morales said. "We want to make sure we promote safety. Every time you get on your bike, you should conduct a T-Clock inspection to make sure you're riding safe. Not just for your own safety, but for the other (drivers) on the road, as well."
Although vehicle maintenance is an important factor, Lance Cpl. Bill Rhyne, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said most fatal motorcycle wrecks are caused by riders.
"Fatalities are happening for two primary reasons in South Carolina -- lack of training for our motorcyclists on the roadway, and no helmet use," Rhyne said. "On post, you're required to wear your helmet, but I can't tell you the number of times I've seen guys leave Fort Jackson, stop (at a restaurant) and, when they leave, their helmet is not on. A helmet is the single most important piece of equipment if you're riding a motorcycle."
According to Army Regulation 385-55, Soldiers must wear a properly fastened, approved helmet whenever and wherever they operate or ride a motorcycle or moped -- on or off post.
Morales said the winter break can sometimes leave riders a little rusty, in regard to fundamental safety techniques.
"A lot of riders will get complacent and let some of those safety rules they learned at the Basic Riders Course fall by the wayside," Morales said. "This stresses the training that was conducted so we can stay safe on the road. We need every Soldier."
Rhyne said the number of paper vehicle tags he saw Friday on motorcycles taking part in the rally at Hilton Field was also a cause for concern.
"I see brand new bikes sitting out there with paper tags," he said. "That leads me to wonder if this is your first motorcycle, or if you're starting to ride again after a long break. When I see new tags, I see new riders."
He also cautioned experienced riders not to neglect basic safety procedures. Most motorcycle fatalities are the fault of the rider inexperience or complacency, he said.
"Even if you rode yesterday, don't take for granted that everything's going to be right," Rhyne said. "If you're paying attention and remember, 'Yes, it can happen to me,' and employ the right skills, motorcycling is a very safe avenue for you to go out and have some fun."