By Sgt. 1st Class Tami HillisJuly 3, 2008
FORT STEWART, GA -- The majority of motorists consider themselves above-average drivers when it comes to operating a vehicle. No one ever thinks they will be involved in a vehicle crash, but no one is perfect, and that's why it's called an accident.
Motorcycling has become an increasingly popular sport; however, it can be risky. But through proper training and preparation, accidents can be reduced, or at times prevented.
One way Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield leadership is helping minimize this risk is by offering free motorcycle safety courses for all serviemembers, Family members, and civilian employees associated with the 3rd Infantry Division. Basic and intermediate courses are offered at Stewart and Hunter each week.
In order to complete the course, each student must attend each session, pass a written knowledge exam and a riding-skill evaluation. In addition the course offers a state-of-the art motorcycle simulator in building 162, on Fort Stewart.
During the classes, students are equipped with the knowledge and basic skills to operate a motorcycle. The class is designed to help reduce the risk associated with driver training, or the lack thereof.
"They (riders) think if they can drive cars they can ride motorcycles," said Hector Eide, motorcycle instructor at Stewart in an August 2007 Frontline interview. "Bottom line, they don't have any training or they have limited training - do not know how to properly corner or turn the motorcycle at speed, how to properly brake or how to properly swerve to avoid an obstacle."
Eide added that the number one cause for crashes with multiple vehicles that include a
motorcycle is caused by motorists failing to recognize a motorcyclist and failing to yield to the motorcyclist, often times turning left in front of them.
"We could save an excess of 60 percent of the motorcycles out there if no one ever made a left hand turn," Eide said. In order to help minimize motorcycle accidents and motorcycle fatalities, it is mandatory to successfully complete an approved rider or operator safety course prior to operation of any motorcycle, according to the Department of Defense Instruction 6055.4.
"We have training motorcycles that we use so they don't have to bring their own," Eide said. "In fact, (Major) General (Rick) Lynch (3rd Infantry Division Commanding General) wants Soldiers to learn how to ride before they buy. That way they are better equipped to make the best decision when they buy."
In addition to attending the course, motorcyclists also are required to wear proper personal protective equipment. This equipment includes:
Aca,!Ac Helmets: Certified to meet Department of Transportation standards and properly fastened under the chin.
Aca,!Ac Goggles and Face Shields: Impact or shatter resistant goggles or full-face shield properly attached to the helmet.
Aca,!Ac Sturdy Footwear: Leather boots or over the ankle shoes are strongly encouraged.
Aca,!Ac Clothing: Long sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers, and full-fingered gloves or mittens designed for use on a motorcycle.
Aca,!Ac Garment Visibility: A brightly colored upper garment during the day and a reflective upper garment during the night.
For those who want to register for a class at Stewart-Hunter go to home.comcast.net/~eide_h/mcsafety.html to download an application or for more information, call 767-7879 or 767-7878 to make an appointment, or go to building number 727 to sign up for a course, or call 767-7425 for instructions.
Editor's note: Contributions by Pat Young, Fort Stewart Public Affairs.