View Full Version : Motorcycle Safety Helps Marines Keep Their Tires On The Road

12-06-05, 10:03 AM
Marine Forces Atlantic
Story by: Sgt. Chad Swaim

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES ATLANTIC, Norfolk Va.(Dec. 6, 2005) -- The number of service members who own and operate motorcycles continues to grow. Unfortunately, as the number of riders grow, so do the mishaps. During the first month of fiscal year 2006 the outlying commands of Marine Forces Atlantic sustained six motorcycle accidents that resulted in three fatalities and three injuries.

Some motorcycle accidents are difficult to prevent due to the actions of other drivers. Most often however, the responsibility for safety rests with the individual.

"Too many of these fatalities we are experiencing are the direct result of poor decision making by the person riding the motorcycle," said John Gifford, who is a motorcycle safety course instructor at Naval Station Norfolk, and a native of Tullahoma, Tenn.

Of the six accidents only one of the Marines had completed the mandatory motorcycle safety course required for all Department of Defense personnel.

"All DOD personnel can take the course, and they are required to take it; regardless if they ride on base or not, 24-7, on or off duty," said Gifford.

Most accident investigations often reveal that motorcycle mishaps are caused by the rider's disregard for laws, lowered standards of conduct and lack of self-discipline. According to the Safety Office, they are absolutely preventable.

The adrenaline rush and the feeling of freedom motorcycle riders often seek can make the rider lose focus on the reality of how much power a motorcycle has, and how powerless a rider can be when something goes wrong Gifford explained.

Also, one of the Marines failed to wear all of his required personal protective equipment. Marines riding motorcycles without all of their equipment and/or without taking an approved safety course are in violation of Department of Defense Instruction 6055.4E, Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 5100.12G and Marine Corps Order 5100.19E. Marines found in violation of these orders and instructions can be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Wearing a helmet is critical to the safety of the rider, although, not just any headgear is sufficient. It is important to wear a helmet that is recommended by the Department of Transportation, Snell or the American National Standards Institute, according to Gifford.

All of this may lead some to believe that riding motorcycles is a dangerous way to spend your off time. Yet, the majority of motorcyclists do practice safety and responsibility.

"The whole stereotype when it comes to the general public, the non-riders, and how they feel about motorcycles is that motorcyclists are all crazy idiots that do 120 mph in heavy traffic," said Gifford. “Most motorcyclists are very responsible riders.”

Riders are highly encouraged to take advantage of available resources. Motorcycle safety courses are available at no cost to all DOD personnel. There are two courses held at Naval Station Norfolk. The required Basic Riders Course is a two-day course that involves classroom and ride time and covers basic control of motorcycle skills. The Experienced Riders Course is a refresher course that lasts about five hours. For enrollment details, contact your safety representative or call (757) 440-4209 extension 602 or 608 for more information.