By Tim ShannonNovember 15, 2011
FORT MEADE, Md. - With an eye toward increasing safety and decreasing motorcycle mishaps, the U.S. Army released a rapid-action revision to the Army Safety Program Oct 1. The revision states that all motorcycle riding Soldiers are required to complete advanced motorcycle training consisting of either the Experienced Riders Course or the Military Sports Bike Riders Course within 12 months following completion of the Basic Riders Course.
Prior to the rapid-action revision, Soldiers were required to complete the BRC before driving a motorcycle and to complete a motorcycle refresher training course if they had been deployed for more than 180 days.
The motorcycle safety courses aren't just for Soldiers either. According to the revision, Department of the Army civilians are eligible for motorcycle safety classes on a space available basis as well. Although there is no ERC or SRC for civilians, there is an equivalent: the Basic Riders Course II.
Civilians and contractors working for the Department of the Army are not required to receive service-sponsored training. They are also not required to provide proof of training for entry to any Department of Defense installation.
"It's true that Department of the Army civilians and contractors aren't required to take the BRC, but because it's their safety at stake, we still recommend they take the course," said Maj. Michael Sabatini, First Army Division East safety officer.
Sabatini explained that riding motorcycles requires skill and discipline and that the BRC offers that all-important training.
"I've been riding for a while and it's a temptation to roll that throttle back, but you have to be disciplined and trained not to do that."
First Army Division East Motorcycle Mentor Master Sgt. John Harrington agreed with Sabatini about the inherent dangers of motorcycle riding and stressed education as the best way to counter it.
"The Basic Riders Course is the first thing you need to do, before you even buy a motorcycle," said Harrington. "The training is free to all military personnel. Then if you decide you want to buy, start off small and work your way up to a bigger bike as you build confidence and skills."
Along with educating yourself, Sabatini believes a fundamental part of motorcycle riding is wearing the right riding apparel.
"I can't stress enough, the importance of proper riding gear," said Sabatini. "I wish the Army could do a study to determine how far you can skid before your ACU is shredded. These things won't put up much of a fight against asphalt compared to leather riding gear that will wear off but save your skin."
Sabatini explained that, to him, proper motorcycle riding apparel consists of Department of Transportation-approved helmet, leather jacket with reflective vest, leather pants, over the ankle boots and leather gloves.
Harrington offered some advice to motorcycle riders as an avid rider since 1995 and a motorcycle mentor of five years.
"Motorcycle riding is meant to be fun; if you want to test your limits, go to the track. We as riders do not stand a chance against a 4-wheeler."
Both Harrington and Sabatini recommend getting to know all of the revisions to the Army Safety Program. For more information, visit http://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/pdf/R385_10.PDF.