By Art Powell, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala.October 20, 2011
New training requirements for Army motorcyclists went into effect in fiscal year 2012, and failure to comply could lead to the loss of on-post riding privileges.
The Progressive Training Model is now mandatory for all Soldiers who ride motorcycles on-or off-post. The new requirements include completion of the Military Sport Bike Rider Course or Experienced Rider Course within 12 months of graduation from the Basic Rider Course, followed by sustainment training every three years and refresher training after every 180 days or greater deployed
"Getting into training like this gives me the opportunity to learn more about safe riding, and how to get out of various situations I might find on the road," said Maj. Henry Washington, accident investigator, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala. "We need to complete motorcycle training to get our state drivers license, as well as complete the military training requirements.
"Working at the Safety Center, we see too many reports of deadly motorcycle accidents, and it's the job of all Leaders to make sure our Soldiers get this motorcycle training and understand how important it is," he added.
Army safety officials urged leaders to ensure Soldiers are aware of updated requirements in Army Regulation 385-10 and enforce the new standard with their riders.
In addition to the progressive motorcycle training, the Army also has instituted a new Remedial Driver Training program that takes the best in the civilian community and utilizes it to try and change Soldier behavior before it results in an accident or worse.
"I began riding when I was young, then stopped for riding for about 20 years," said Bruce Dinoff, lead instructor, Cape Fox Government Services, which provides the Army traffic safety training program. "When I started riding again, I learned I needed training."
Dinoff, a certified instructor, provides various motorcycle training courses to Soldiers at Fort Rucker.
"I want these riders to get comfortable on their bikes," he said, adding, "Improper braking and improper cornering are the two biggest problems I find experienced riders face."
While cornering and braking may seem like basic skills, Dinoff knows complacency has a vote, too.
"You have to practice your emergency skills, because if you don't use it, you lose it," he explained.
Master Sgt. John Collins, operations non-commissioned officer in charge, USACR/Safety Center, has 25-30 years of riding experience.
"I'm comfortable I know what I'm doing when I'm riding a bike, but I also know I need refresher training," he said. "I started out riding sport bikes, now I'm on an Ultra-Classic Harley, so, every time I switch bikes, and don't ride that much, my skill level drops."
Collins felt when he completed the on-the-course training following a safety check of his bike and a briefing on what he and other riders would accomplish on the course, he would feel 'a lot more comfortable.'
For one member of the Driving Task Force at the USACR/Safety Center, 'getting rusty' can happen to both a bike and the rider.
"Being more confident comes with re-exercising what we know, but we have let it get
rusty. Riders must understand to ensure that regardless of being a rider or
rider coach we all develop bad habits over time," said Earnest Eakins, off-duty safety manager, Driving Task Force. "The goal of progressive training is to keep that in mind. None of us like a test, but progressive training will force us to take another course, including a test to keep riding."
Progressive Motorcycle Training is similar to the Army physical training test, he added.
"If we keep our skills fresh rather than fire once and forget, the butterflies will be fewer, we will think about our training more often, and as a result, be safer."
Thousands of Soldiers receive motorcycle training annually, and approximately 400 students attend Fort Rucker motorcycle training each year.
For additional information on the Fort Rucker motorcycle training program, visit http://www-rucker.army.mil/newcomers/motorcycles.html or call (334) 255-0779.
Motorcyclists perform required safety training on a training track at Fort Rucker, Ala., Oct. 6, 2011. Recent changes to Army Regulation 385-10 affect all Army motorcyclists and failure to comply could lead to the loss of on-post riding privileges. (Photo by Art Powell, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala.)