By G. Anthonie Riis | Fort Knox NewsJune 27, 2019
The Fort Knox Army Traffic Safety Training Program is doing more than teaching service members how to ride their motorcycles safely, it also helps protect service member benefits.
Sean O'Neal, a Fort Knox Army Traffic Safety Training Program instructor said that riding a motorcycle without the required training could mean a forfeiture of service members' health benefits if they are seriously injured in a motorcycle-related crash, or a loss of certain death benefits for the Family if they are killed.
"There's a lot of danger in riding a motorcycle, and many people don't know all the ins and outs," O'Neal said. "[Just as] the Army requires [motorcyclists] to wear all their safety gear regardless of the individual state's rules, this course is required for [Soldiers] to ride."
Fort Knox Safety Specialist Brian Wood said the training is not optional for Soldiers and must be completed before they ride on or off post.
"This is required training before any Soldier rides a motorcycle anywhere," Wood said. "This important training is provided by the Army to reduce motorcycle and vehicle accidents and losses in our formation. Leaders need to send their Soldiers to this training and incorporate it in their training plans for visibility and scheduling."
O'Neal said avoiding the training becomes a bigger irritation in the end.
"Motorcyclists driving on post without training will get their privileges revoked, and they'll likely get in a lot of trouble with their commanders," said O'Neal. "They'll definitely be hassled to take the course."
O'Neal explained that taking the course is worthwhile.
"The Basic Riders Course gets them their learners permit in a sense," said O'Neal.
The curriculum provided by Fort Knox's safety training program is considered more stringent than Kentucky's state program. As a result, it allows participants to forego some of the state's program.
"We do more in the class than the state requires, and the [Motorcycle Safety Foundation] card waives the [Kentucky state riding test] requirement and gets them the motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license," said O'Neal.
The training also affects Army careers and potentially Families.
"If they're in an accident and [authorities] pull the records and find that they haven't had the proper training, it can affect their military career down the road," said O'Neal. "They could be denied health benefits, and their family might be denied their death benefits."
Tim Goblirsch, Fort Knox Administrative Law chief, explained that riding a motorcycle without the Army's safety training could be a determining factor when coupled with other factors surrounding an incident.
"Training completion and rule compliance may be considered as factors in reviewing a line of duty determination," Goblirsch said. "While simple negligence alone does not constitute misconduct, a combination of multiple violations may be considered a gross violation. Violations of military regulation, orders, instructions or of civil law, are all circumstances to be examined and weighed."
Motorcyclists not only learn how to safely conduct their bikes at these training programs, but they can go a long way to protect their Families' benefits in the event they are injured in a motorcycle accident," said Goblirsch. "Safety rules, protective equipment and safety courses are in place to protect the Soldier and the Soldier's Family from adverse consequences that could affect them forever.
Goblirsch added that an adverse LOD finding can affect pay, service computation, disability retirement, severance and veteran's benefits. However, LOD determinations do not affect the payment of the death gratuity as that is a statutory benefit."