Nearly every motorcycle rider had a story to tell – either a very close call or an actual accident. But each rider said it would have been much worse if not for them having the right training, the right equipment, the right measures in place, and a firm understanding of the rules of the road here in Korea.
Each rider said it would have been much worse if not for them having the right training, the right equipment, the right measures in place and a firm understanding of the rules of the road here in Korea.
During the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Motorcycle Mentorship Program Safety Ride June 5, USAG Daegu and Area IV riders shared stories at rest stops and breaks along the route, providing sage advice for less seasoned riders in attendance.
John Preston, who has been riding for nearly 50 years – 37 of which are here in South Korea – said riding in Korea is much different than riding in the United States.
Preston, who lives in Weagwan but works at Camp Henry in Daegu as a logistics planner with the 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, said he rides back and forth to work almost every day. Unless it’s pouring rain or there’s a chance of ice or snow Preston makes the trek, averaging about 7,000 miles a year on his bike.
He recalled the time he had to lay his motorcycle down. There was sand on a sharp corner and a manhole. When he hit the manhole, the bike lifted up a little and the sand caused the rear wheel to slide. He ended up in the ditch. Holding up his leather jacket – almost proudly – Preston pointed to the reinforced, thick leather elbow patch – now scuffed, gouged and extremely worn from the accident.
“This would have been the skin off my arm,” he said.
Each of the riders had a story to tell. Many specifically talked about driving in Korea, all agreeing it’s not the same in the United States – it’s much more dangerous here. In Daegu, which has a population of more than 2.5 million people, driving any motor vehicle can be hectic and stressful. Driving a motorcycle in heavy chaotic Daegu traffic takes skill and patience.
“In Korea, (while operating a motorcycle) you have to expect the unexpected. Everything is a threat,” said Lee Menzimer, the chief of the Major Assembly Division, U.S. Army Materiel Support Command – Korea.
While operating a motorcycle in Korea ... "you have to expect the unexpected. Everything is a threat.”
Menzimer is the lead for MSC-K’s motorcycle mentorship program. He said his commander understands the importance of having a program in place and ensuring all the motorcycle riders in the unit ride safely. Menzimer is planning a MMP safety ride in July, he said. The date will be confirmed soon.
Menzimer recalled a ride he made with two other riders from Area IV to Pyeongtaek awhile back. During the ride, a car in front of him tried to make a left turn just as Menzimer was about to legally and safely pass. He swerved to avoid collision, but the driver of the car – who was likely startled – overcompensated, forcing Menzimer off the road.
“It was not a good day,” Menzimer said. “I broke my collar bone, and the front end of my bike had to be completely replaced.”
“I feel the same way when I drive a car here in Korea. You have to protect yourself,” he added.
All in all, the 19th ECS Motorcycle Mentorship Program Safety Ride, by all accounts, was a success – not just the ride itself but the stories told and examples set. Each rider listened closely as other riders provided their personal experiences, insights, lessons learned and methods they use to ensure safety remains paramount.
“It all comes down to readiness,” said Master Sgt. Mickey Irby, the 19th ESC Support Operations noncommissioned officer in charge and the organizer of the 19th ESC safety ride. “We want every unit to have a motorcycle mentorship and safety program, we want every rider to get involved, and we want everyone to remain safe.”
“It all comes down to readiness. We want every unit to have a motorcycle mentorship and safety program, we want every rider to get involved, and we want everyone to remain safe.”
To learn more about the Army’s Motorcycle Safety Program, go to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center website. There’s a Motorcycle Mentorship Program section at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2-Motorcycles/Motorcycle-Mentorship-Program-MMP.
Also check out the Combat Readiness Center website’s motorcycle main page at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2-Motorcycles. The page contains information on the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, the U.S. Army IMCOM Traffic Safety Training Program, regulatory guidance and policies, training and riding tips, motorcycle refresher exercises, TRiPS and information on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation motorcycle training course, which is mandatory for Soldiers per Army Regulation 385-10, Chapter 11-7.