SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Whether you're on your motorcycle to take in the scenery or riding on a Sunday afternoon with friends, spending a day on your motorcycle is a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors. For the uninitiated or unprepared, however, participating in this activity without a proper risk assessment can be deadly. As leaders and safety professionals, it should never be far from our minds that this time of year is historically the most risky for our Soldiers off duty.

On average, the Army loses the equivalent of a company-sized formation in off-duty accidents each year. These tragic deaths affect our combat readiness just as much as a loss occurring on duty. Awareness and application of appropriate safety measures while involved in off-duty activities can preserve the lives of Soldiers and their family members. As part of the Army Safety & Occupational States Health Objectives for Fiscal Year 2014, units within the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division participated in motorcycle safety training day on Nov. 26.

Motorcycle safety training was conducted in order to increase motorcycle rider proficiency and educate Soldiers and leaders on measures designed to minimize preventable accidents. Units conducted training on the application of composite risk management, practiced defensive driving and motorcycle safety, and reviewed the current 2nd SBCT policy on motorcycle requirements for Soldiers.

"Conducting motorcycle safety training is meant to help leaders and safety professionals engage their Soldiers, civilians and family members on risk and risk management," said Billy Chestnut, 25th Infantry Division Safety officer. "Engagement and vigilance is the key to reducing on and off duty accidents."

According to Sgt. 1st Class Victor Flood, 2nd SBCT Safety NCOIC, a good motorcycle safety program is about attitude, discipline, leadership engagement and good guidance.

"First, commanders, Soldiers, and safety officers need to understand their mission as well as the task they must accomplish," said Flood. "Second, it is important that leaders at all levels be involved with all operations, supervising and enforcing control measures put in place to protect Soldiers. Third, officers and non-commissioned officers should have or develop a five-step risk management process for off duty activities that Soldiers and families participate in. Finally, commanders, Soldiers, and safety officers need to understand or identify hazards and factors that will adversely affect the combat readiness of a unit."

Given that the holiday season often brings in increase in safety incidents, 2nd SBCT is redoubling their efforts on motorcycle accident prevention education.

"Safety is a state of mind that is constantly developing and being enforced in Soldiers over time," said Flood. "We continue to do everything we can to educate Soldiers on the dangers of speeding, proper motorcycle personal protective equipment, and maintaining rider proficiency."