Statistics show preparation is sorely needed: During fiscal year 2012, motorcycle accidents were one of the leading causes of off-duty death in the Army, with 47 Soldier fatalities. Human error was the primary contributing factor in most of these cases.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, mental preparation starts with a series of “mental strategies.” These include constantly searching the road for changing conditions to increase reaction time and safety margins to respond to other motorists’ actions and unexpected obstacles or events. Other tips include watching for turning vehicles, signaling your next move in advance, avoiding weaving between lanes and adhering to posted speed limits.
Riders should also make themselves as visible as possible and never ride while tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, recently started riding again and stressed the importance of preparation on a motorcycle.
“As a returning rider, I understand operating a motorcycle is riskier than driving,” Edens said. “I firmly believe proper training, a safe unit riding culture, use of proper personal protective equipment and mentorship involvement create an environment where Soldiers can enjoy a safe, life-long riding experience.”
More information on the Progressive Motorcycle Program, the Army’s mandated training series applicable to all Soldier riders, and the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, a voluntary riding organization available at installations across the Army, is available at https://safety.army.mil.
Riders should remember to prepare their “metal,” too. The T-CLOCS checklist, also featured on the USACR/Safety Center website, provides an outline Soldiers should follow when performing a mechanical inspection on their bikes.