FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Sept. 9, 2013) - Lt. Col. Craig Lambert, a member of the West Virginia National Guard, was named the motorcycle Outstanding RiderCoach Trainer for 2013 by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at the organization's International Rider Education Training System Conference held Aug. 15-16 in Indianapolis.

Lambert, who was one of nearly 300 other motorcycle mentors nationwide up for the honor, was recognized for his work in organizing what is now the West Virginia Military Motorcycle Safety Program. The program works in concert with the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to address the needs of the state's military personnel.

"I'm honored to receive this recognition," Lambert said. "But it's truly reflective of the efforts of all the RiderCoaches involved in our program who have committed themselves to the continued safety of our Soldiers, dependents and employees who ride motorcycles."

The program began in 2005, consisting of only a few roadside safety cones and a range on which motorcycle riders could navigate a course. It has grown considerably over the past eight years and now includes a dedicated support trailer, 15 trainer bikes and 12 ranges across the state of West Virginia. The program has been identified as a "best practice" in 33 other states and territories.

Lambert was also instrumental in assisting the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center in developing and testing the MSF's updated Basic RiderCourse 2014 Update - a classroom and hands-on training course intended for new motorcycle riders.

"Lt. Col. Lambert's commitment to motorcycle safety has had a huge impact on the well-being of military motorcycle riders across his state as well as across the Army," said Walt Beckman, loss prevention program manager for the USACR/Safety Center's Driving Directorate. "The West Virginia Army National Guard will be the first Army organization to use the new Basic RiderCourse when it becomes available."

In fiscal 2012, the U.S. Army (Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the active component) lost 43 service members to fatal motorcycle accidents. This year, the Army has lost 35 Soldiers to motorcycle accidents, which equates to slightly more than one-third of all of the Army's off-duty accident fatalities. Fatalities from motorcycle accidents rank higher than any other off-duty accident, and are about 10 percent higher than sedan and truck fatal accidents.

Brig. Gen. Tim Edens, commanding general of the USACR/Safety Center and director of Army Safety, as well as an avid motorcycle rider, sees potential for the number to grow as combat operations overseas draw down and Soldiers return to home stations.

"Motorcycles are a very popular mode of transportation across the Army," Edens said. "Training and mentoring young and less experienced riders have never been more important. Craig Lambert's enthusiasm and devotion to motorcycle safety will have a positive impact for years to come."

The MSF has trained more than 6 million riders, both military and civilian, since the organization began its efforts in 1973.