By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 11, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 11, 2014) -- Soldiers thinking about hitting the road on two wheels or buying a motorcycle need to make safety Priority No. 1, according to Fort Rucker officials.
To do that they need to take all necessary precautions, make sure they know how to operate the vehicles safely and wear the right gear. There are many factors when it comes to operating a motorcycle safely, and Sharon Manning, installation safety director, said that it begins with protective gear.
"If riders are cycling at night, they should wear reflective gear, and they should always wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, eye protection, gloves and over-the-ankle footwear. An armored jacket would offer additional protection," she said, adding that shoe strings on boots should be tucked in.
Another factor for motorcyclists to be concerned with is driving defensively.
"The four deadly words are 'I didn't see him,'" said the safety director. "Always assume that other drivers are not going to see you."
Those operating motorcycles aren't the only ones who need to be knowledgeable on motorcycle safety, said Manning, stressing that those who ride as passengers need to be just as knowledgeable as the drivers.
"Passengers should be dressed the same as the driver and they need to understand the handling characteristics of a motorcycle, such as leaning," she said.
Riders should always make sure their motorcycle is in proper working condition, and now with summer in full swing, people should also be aware of strong storms throughout the season.
"Always check that tires are not over or under inflated and avoid riding in rough, stormy weather," said Manning. "If you plan on a long ride, always check the weather and try to always carry a rain suit in case you encounter an unexpected storm. Be very careful when it begins to rain because the rain hasn't had time to clear the oily film off the road."
Storms aren't the only things that summer brings. Many cyclists are heading to the beaches of Florida to take advantage of the beach weather. And although the state does not require cyclists to wear helmets, Army regulation does, added Manning.
"People are made famous for thinking, 'It's not going to happen to me.' You can be the safest rider and wear all the protective equipment and still be in an accident where you are seriously injured," she said.
Manning also had a few tips for people who are planning to go to local beaches and rent scooters.
"Sand can cover many roads, making them slippery, thus causing the scooter to be a little harder to handle should it start sliding," she said. "Although wearing a helmet may not look cool, you will look less cool lying on the roadway."
People should never wear shorts or flip-flops when riding a two-wheeled vehicle, Manning added.
For the rest of the community who stick to four wheels instead of two, Manning asks them to always be on the lookout for cyclists.
"In this area we have a huge number of riders. If you see one, have a little more courtesy on the road. Don't tailgate them and give them more than one car length between you," she said.
Motorcycle safety courses are mandatory for Soldiers. There are three courses at Fort Rucker: the basic rider course, the experienced rider course, and the military sport bike course. There's a regulatory requirement for all Soldiers to take the Basic Course. Then, within a year after taking it, they're required to take one of the other two courses.
"We have a large number of classes available during the summer, but as soon as the weather gets hotter it will not be as easy to get into a class because they are going to fill up," said Manning.
Soldiers can register for the courses on-line at www.apps.imcom.army.mil/AIRS/default.aspx.
For more information visit www.rucker.army.mil/newcomers/motorcycles/.