As service members hit Missouri roadways on two wheels this spring, motorcycle safety should be a "no-brainer" to riders, according to one Fort Leonard Wood safety manager.
"The reason motorcycle safety is so important should be obvious; it is a very dangerous activity," said John Cobleigh, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood safety manager. "When you ride a motorcycle you are very exposed, and at the same time, you are moving at considerable rate of speed."
"If you get involved in an accident you will be afforded very little protection," Cobleigh said. "The result will likely be a serious injury. It therefore makes sense to ensure that you do everything that you can to make sure that you keep yourself safe on your bike."
One way Fort Leonard Wood helps with motorcycle safety is through its progressive motorcycle training program, which is mandatory for all service members who operate motorcycles, Cobleigh said.
Service members must complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course prior to operating a motorcycle, Cobleigh said.
Within one year of completing the BRC, the Basic Rider Course 2 should be completed, followed by the Motorcycle Sport Bike Rider Course.
Soldiers who have been deployed for six months or longer must complete motorcycle refresher training within 30 days of their return.
Service members are also required to complete motorcycle sustainment training every five years, which consists of, at a minimum, retaking the BRC2 or MSRC, Cobleigh said.
The installation motorcycle mentor, Maj. Robert Paul, said the mandatory motorcycle training is valuable.
"Whether you've been riding a long time or not, the motorcycle training helps refine skills and explain best practices and helps riders get rid of any bad habits," said Paul, who has been operating licensed street bikes for 30 years and has served as a mentor for about 11. "The training helps riders learn how to do things properly."
In addition to various driving techniques, the course also addresses the proper personal protective equipment, also referred to as PPE, all riders are required to wear both on and off the installation while operating a motorcycle or as a passenger, Cobleigh said.
Fort Leonard Wood requires the following PPE to be worn at all times when the motorcycle is in operation: helmets, goggles and face shields, leather boots or sturdy over-the-ankle-shoes, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long trousers, and full-fingered gloves or mittens designed for use on a motorcycle.
Department of Defense civilians are not required to take the safety course, but are required to follow all policies relating to PPE, Paul said.
In May 2012, Paul said he was wearing the required PPE when a deer hit his motorcycle. The accident left Paul on the side of a country road unconscious for three hours.
He suffered a broken nose and three broken vertebrae; he also had to have his left arm reattached following the accident.
"My injuries would have been much worse if I wasn't wearing the proper PPE," Paul said. "It's beneficial to have that training."
For those interested in more information about Fort Leonard Wood's motorcycle safety and training programs, contact the Fort Leonard Wood Safety Office at 573.596.0131, ext. 60116.
Registration for motorcycle training courses can be done online at https://imc.army.mil/airs/usg_disclaimer.aspx.