By Trish Harris/USASOC DCS PAOApril 23, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The new U.S. Army Special Operations Command policy covering motorcycle safety is out, and anyone that falls under USASOC needs to know it. Whether you ride a motorcycle, are considering it, or if you are the supervisor of a rider, the new policy applies to you.
The new requirements under USASOC Command Policy 03-10, along with the Commander's Motorcycle Rider Agreement, USASOC Regulation 385-1, Accident Prevention and Reporting and USASOC fiscal year 10 Safety and Occupational Health Plan and Supplement are as follows.
Sign the Agreement. Upon arriving at their actual place of duty or operating a motorcycle, riders must make the supervisor aware that they ride a motorcycle, receive the safety brief and sign the Commander's Motorcycle Agreement.
Get the training. Training is everything in the Army, and motorcycle riding is no exception. New training requirements include Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic, advanced, sustainment, and refresher training. For more information or to register for a class, contact the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Safety Office at 432-0838 or your safety office for more information.
Wear your gear. Not wearing personal protective equipment and practicing motorcycle safety is always risky and now, not doing so in USASOC can result in a line of duty determination and substantial financial burden on the rider and surviving dependents in the event of an accident. Wear your gear at all times, on and off the installation.
The reason for the new policy implementation is clear. The statistics are everywhere.
Stories of Soldiers injured or killed in motorcycle accidents are told, retold, blasted in e-mails and posted on safety message boards throughout the military. Most people who ride a motorcycle have had an accident or know someone else who has. Motorcycle safety is nothing new to the special operations community.
An article in the Army Times printed July 7, 2009 stated that the number of servicemembers injured and hospitalized in motorcycle accidents increased by more than 100 from 2007 to 2008, and deaths increased by 18 over the same period.
According to the USASOC Safety Office, within fiscal year 2010 there have been nine motorcycle accidents, compared to 13 accidents last year at the same time. There have been no fatalities this year, compared to one fatality at this time last year.
Rising to the challenge of meeting these requirements is USAJFKSWCS safety manager, Cathy Shank, a motorcyclist herself who understands both the thrills and risks of riding. In conjunction with other USASOC safety offices, Shank has put together a team of N.C. state and nationally certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coaches.
These coaches are Soldiers and civilians from all elements of the command.
Soldiers, Family members, civilian employees and contractors throughout USASOC and its units can take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Course, now being offered through the USAJFKSWCS Safety Office.
This program certifies Soldiers and civilians within the special operations community as rider coaches through MSF, so that they can successfully and safely pass their experience and knowledge onto fellow riders. The program teaches the basic, experienced and advanced rider courses, and meets the policy requirements for initial, advanced, sustainment and refresher training.
"In the military, we teach our Soldiers the skills that they need to survive in combat. With this course, we are teaching them what they need to survive everyday when riding a motorcycle. It's Soldiers teaching Soldiers," said Maj. Edward Alvarado, USASFC strategic plans officer and rider coach.
Providing motorcycle training is generally the responsibility of the installation and the Fort Bragg Safety Office has a robust motorcycle training program. The classes are well-attended and often they are full with backlog. They also are usually are offered only during the week.
The USAJKFSWCS program helps augment the motorcycle training already in place.
"The Special Operations Motorcycle Rider Course is offered monthly and often on weekends, catering to the needs of military operations," said Shank.
Additionally, because the certified rider coaches are Soldiers and civilians from within the command, they can create more classes to meet the needs of their individual units. The coaches need only to come together with Shank to arrange the dates and conduct classes for entire units as needed.
Aside from the MSF program, mentorship rides are now taking place all over Fort Bragg, with units hosting safety days and mentorship rides that pair novice riders with experienced riders. Examples include the recent 4th Psychological Operations Group Mentorship ride March 24, and the Pope Air Force Base - Fort Bragg Green Knights Anti-Spring Spike Motorcycle Ride April 2.
The SWCS MSF courses, military rider coaches, and mentorship rides are all ways that SWCS and USASOC are applying full throttle to motorcycle safety.
To sign up to take a motorcycle course, or to learn how to become a rider coach, contact the USAJFKSWCS Safety Office, at 432-0838.