By By Laura M. Levering, Northwest GuardianSeptember 9, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.--
Motorcycle crashes have claimed the lives of four servicemembers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord since April with the most recent occurring in Tacoma just two weeks ago.
Safety training has always been a priority for the military, but in response to the recent tragedies, units on JBLM are focusing on motorcycle safety in hopes of preventing further casualties. For 555th Engineer Brigade safety NCO, Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Brown, that means stepping up the training.
Brown is a master rider with seven years of riding experience. He's quick to share his knowledge with anyone who will listen, and on the cool, sunny morning of Sept. 1, he addressed motorcycle safety issues to more than a dozen fellow riders from his brigade.
The troops were preparing to ride from the brigade headquarters to Mount Rainier on a route that entailed numerous intersections, curvy roads and potentially hazardous road debris and loose gravel. During his 30-minute safety briefing prior to the ride, Brown repeatedly emphasized the importance of putting safety first and maintaining the speed limit.
"If it gets too much for you on the curves we're about to encounter, for those who haven't been up to Paradise or Mount Rainier, slow it down," he said. "It's OK to slow it down."
Riders participating in the ride had experience ranging from three months to 15 years. All of them had completed the Basic Rider Course, as required by Department of Defense and Army regulations.
Prior to the ride, Brown identified the less experienced riders and paired them with the more
seasoned ones to enhance their experience while learning on the ride.
"It's easy to read a book of how to take that turn starting from the outside and going to the inside, then back to the outside, but it doesn't really click until you see somebody actually doing it," he said.
Brown said he had planned for the ride to be fun, but above all, hoped the riders came back being able to better handle the road. "I want them to learn about negotiating turns and riding safe," he said. "That's the main thing I feel that's killing most of our Soldiers in these accidents are these curves."