FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Maneuver Center of Excellence has adopted a new motorcycle safety policy requiring all military riders at Fort Benning to go through mandatory training, even if they never bring the bike on post.
Department of Defense civilians, contractors and family members who are properly licensed to operate a motorcycle do not have to receive “service-sponsored training” or prove they’ve taken similar courses to ride on a military installation, according to Policy Memorandum 385-10-5, dated April 25. The change comes after a Soldier assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, MCoE, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on Alabama State Route 165 earlier that month.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Smith, a combat development specialist, had part of his leg amputated and suffered partial paralysis, the extent of which is unknown, said MCoE Safety Director Jill Carlson. She said the report indicates he was wearing a helmet and proper personal protective equipment.
A five-year analysis of motorcycle accidents involving Fort Benning personnel lists “indiscipline, overconfidence and aggressive speed” as top factors and causes.
“Motorcycle accidents continue to be a leading cause of Soldier fatalities and serious injuries Army-wide,” the letter reads. “Our current concerns over motorcycle operation will require the personal involvement of leaders at all levels. All Soldiers need to be trained on motorcycle safety awareness.”
Carlson said no one else was hurt in the April 4 accident along Route 165 between Gilmore Road and Craig Drive.
At about 3 p.m. that afternoon, Smith was on his 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorcycle traveling south at estimated speeds in excess of 100 mph when he passed three cars and an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, she said. After completing the pass, Smith struck another vehicle that was attempting to turn left off Route 165 onto a side street. The Soldier and motorcycle continued another 1,155 feet following the point of impact.
At least one passer-by helped at the scene -- another Soldier applied a tourniquet to Smith’s damaged leg, potentially saving his life, said Capt. Kip Randall, commander of HHC, MCoE. That Soldier declined an interview request.
Smith was transported by ground ambulance to Columbus Medical Center.
Carlson said his injuries included a collapsed and bruised lung, multiple broken ribs on the right side, a broken shoulder, damaged diaphragm, bruised kidney and liver. He was under observation for a bruised brain and possible spinal injury.
Randall said Smith remains in an Atlanta rehabilitation center, but the company hasn’t received an update on his condition since early May.
The MCoE and Fort Benning Motorcycle Safety Program includes mandatory training, leader mentorship and reinforcement of Soldiers’ personal responsibility to ride safely, according to the policy memo.
MOTORCYCLE POLICY CHANGE
• Mandatory training required for all military riders on or off duty and on or off post.
• Motorcycle Safety Foundation course provided at no cost.
• Mandatory training consists of the Basic Rider Course, Experienced Rider Course, Motorcycle Sports Rider Course and Motorcycle Refresher Training. Registration is available at https://apps.imcom.army.mil/AIRS/default.aspx.
Civilians, contractors and family members:
• Motorcycle Safety Foundation training no longer provided and MSF card no longer required.
• MCoE and Fort Benning entry requirements include license with motorcycle endorsement, registration and insurance, and proper personal protective equipment.
MOTORCYCLE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
The mechanical condition of a motorcycle and the proper wear of personal protective equipment are critical in preventing and surviving motorcycle accidents. With warmer weather and increased daylight hours, more riders will be on the roads. The U.S. Army Combat Readiness and Safety Center and local motorcycle mentorship programs offer safe riding guidelines and tips for new and experienced riders.
For more information about the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, visit https://safety.army.mil or call the MCoE Safety Office at 706-545-3678 or 706-545-0742.
Dress for success:
• Head protection: Department of Transportation or equivalent-approved helmets
• Foot protection: Foot and ankle protection is very important. Over-the-ankle leather boots are required.
• Gloves: Wear gloves (full-fingered) when you ride.
• Eye protection: Proper eye protection is a necessity. Face shields or motorcycle goggles are best.
• Passenger safety: Before taking a friend for a ride, make sure they too are dressed properly.
Hazards of the road:
• Most motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. Approach with care to avoid accidents.
• Watch for wet or oily road surfaces. They can cause loss of control.
• Leaves, sand, gravel, ice, snow and other obstructions inhibit traction.
• Cobblestone streets offer very little traction, even under the best conditions.
• Do not drink and drive. One drink is one too many.
Source: MCoE Safety Office