JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Because of the risk of injury and death from motorcycle accidents, the Department of the Army has established the Motorcycle Mentorship and Safety Emphasis Program. Within the 7th Infantry Division, program leadership goals are to increase the safety awareness of motorcycle riders while building esprit de corps through regular, organized rides.

More than 100 riders from throughout 7th Infantry Division participated in a division safety ride May 22, to promote safe riding practices, enhance individual rider skills, and build confidence through group riding.

"What we want to do is build a positive motorcycle riding environment and culture within the unit," said Master Sgt. Dewayne Darling, 7th Infantry Division primary motorcycle mentor.

"With this ride, we're accomplishing a couple of things - we're providing an opportunity for riders at all levels of the division to interact with one another and practice safe riding techniques. We're also providing a forum for experienced feedback to the division motorcycle safety program before the beginning of the prime riding season," Darling said.

Following the ride, the division's motorcycle riders should have a better understanding of the mentorship program.

"It's also a way to celebrate the start of the 2014 riding season, and start developing those safe habits in time for summer riding," said Sgt. Kerry Keels, 7th Infantry Division.

Keels has been riding motorcycles for six years. He said he always goes through the mental checklist to be sure he's wearing everything needed for a safer ride: gloves, over-the-ankle shoes, helmet and a reflective belt or vest.

"Riders have to take the motorcycle safety course, but a program like this I'd recommend just because you can learn a little something from more experienced riders," Keels said. "Plus, when the weather's right, riding with others is just a lot of fun."