ANSBACH, Germany (July 3, 2013) -- The commanding general of United States Army Europe mandated the wear of fluorescent and highly reflective material for upper outer garment for USAREUR Soldiers, civilians (including contractors but excluding local national employees), and Family members riding motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, to save lives.

So far this year, 19 Soldiers have died in motorcycle accidents. In 2012, more than 37 percent of Army traffic fatalities involved motorcycles. The average age of motorcyclists killed was 28 and all were male. In 2012, 47 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes, an increase from 4 percent from 45 fatalities in 2011.

Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell, commanding general of USAREUR, in an effort to save lives has mandated that USAREUR Soldiers must wear a vest, jacket, upper outer garment, or motorcycle clothing that incorporates fluorescent and highly reflective material at all times when operating or riding as a passenger on two-wheeled motor vehicles (including mopeds, motorcycles, motorbikes) and all-terrain vehicles and similar vehicles (such as Cam-Am Spyders and three-wheeled motorcycles) on and off post.

Military uniforms, including the Army physical fitness apparel, which is designed to be reflective, does not possess the fluorescent quality intended to alert motorists to the presence of the low-profile vehicles such as mopeds, motorcycles, ATVs and so forth.

"Wearing reflective/retro-reflective material is essential when you share the road with cars, trucks and buses," said Col. Kelly J. Lawler, garrison commander of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach. "It helps operators of larger vehicles quickly recognize oncoming motorcycles and ATVs and gauge their speed. No one intentionally pulls out in front of a motorcycle or ATV. They do it because they simply don't see the rider."

Civilian employees (including contractors but excluding local national employees) and Family members must wear fluorescent and reflective outer garments when operating or riding as a passenger on two-wheeled vehicles, ATVs and similar vehicles on Army installations. These individuals are encouraged to wear the garment off post to enhance their visibility to motorists as a way of enhancing their safety.

Lt. Col. David Markiewicz, director of emergency services, is an avid motorcyclist and understands the Campbell's concerns about the safety of motorcyclists.

"This policy address the rider's need to be conspicuous while in the traffic environment," said Markiewicz. "The formula for safe motorcycling is simple: fundamental knowledge of sound riding strategies, which includes SEEing (search, evaluate and execute) and being seen. A motorcyclist must have well-honed riding skills, a responsible mindset, and drive defensively with the assumption that other drivers do not see you."

"We recently sponsored a motorcycle safety day where this critical element of safe motorcycling was highlighted," said Earnest Singleton, the garrison safety manager. "We emphasized the best person to look out for a rider's safety is the rider, and that starts with getting trained, making the right choice when it comes to riding attire, and riding responsibly."

Ansbach Exchange New Cars Sales and the USAREUR Safety Office donated reflective vests to support the motorcycle safety day, and each participant was given a fluorescent vest and encouraged to wear it.

"We still have several reflective vests and will make them available on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last," said Singleton. "They're great for passengers of low-profile vehicles. We recommend operators of low-profile vehicles purchase high-visibility motorcycle riding vest sold at the Exchange and on the local economy."

"I respect the decision to ride a motorcycle or ATV as a form of transportation and/or recreation," said Lawler. "But, I ask you to operate them safely, exercise sound risk management, and ride within your abilities. Above all, don the proper personal protective equipment every ride, no exceptions."

For more information on motorcycle safety, call the garrison safety office at 09811-83-1670 or DSN 468-1670.