Accompanying the arrival of warmer weather is the start of motorcycle riding season – a time of great excitement, especially among the sports-bike crowd who is itching to blow the winter dust off their rides and immediately satisfy the “need for speed.”
Unfortunately, this also is the time of year when motorcycle accidents spike. Crashes are caused by poor maintenance, rusty habits, other drivers not paying attention to the increase in bike traffic, pavement damage caused by cold and wet weather, showboating, and so on.
With that in mind, let’s take a knee for a moment and review the training requirements for motorcycle riders on Fort Lee and simple safety steps that can prevent most accidents. The latter of those two is particularly important at this time because all Army Traffic Safety Training Program courses for April have been cancelled in compliance with COVID-19 prevention efforts. Classes are projected to resume in May.To register for the appropriate course, go to https://imc.army.mil/airs.
All Soldiers who operate a motorcycle are required to take the following training:
• Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic rider course or state-approved motorcycle operator’s training.
• Experience rider course or BRC II.
• Military sport-bike rider course.
• Motorcycle refresher training for Soldiers deployed for more than 180 days. This training can be conducted at unit level. Download material fromsafety.army.mil/Default.aspx.
Based on the type of motorcycles owned or operated, Soldiers complete either ERC or the MSRC within 12 months of completing the BRC.
Motorcycle sustainment training is based on the type of bike owned or operated; Soldiers are required to complete the training every five years after an advanced level rider course such as the ERC/BRCII or MSRC. Retaking the appropriate course will keep the rider in compliance with the Progressive Motorcycle Program standards.
Civilians and contracted laborers are not authorized to receive Army-sponsored training, however, proof of safety course completion at an off-post training site is required to operate a bike on post.
Active duty military personnel assigned to Fort Lee can sign-up for training at imc.army.mil/airs. Also the Fort Lee Motorcycle Range is available during non-scheduled training days for groups and individual riders. It is located on the corner of A and Mahone avenues.
Tip No. 1 for Riders:
• Remember motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.
• Make sure all lights operate and are turned on day and night.
• Use retro-reflective strips/decals on clothing and motorcycles.
• Be aware of the blind spots cars, trucks and other motorcyclists have.
• Flash brake lights when slowing down and before stopping.
• If unseen by a motorist, use the horn.
Dress for safety:
• Wear a quality helmet and wrap-around eye protection or face shield.
• Wear bright retro-reflective clothing and a light-colored helmet.
• Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing. Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and full fingered gloves.
Apply effective mental strategies:
• Constantly search the road for changing conditions. Use MSF’s Search, Evaluate, Execute strategy to increase time and space safety margins.
• Allow sufficient space to respond to motorists’ actions and vice-versa.
• Use lane positioning to be seen. Scan the roadway for obstructions; make changes while staying within the lane to avoid debris when possible.
• Watch for turning vehicles.
• Signal all moves in advance.
• Avoid weaving between lanes.
• Do not ride when tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
• Know and follow the rules of the road, and stick to the speed limit.
Know your bike and how to use it:
• Get formal training and take refresher courses. Seek out mentorship programs and network with other riders in your area.
• Call 800-446-9227 or visit www.msf-usa.org to locate the Motorcycle Safety Foundation hands-on rider courses.
• Practice developing individual riding techniques before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle your bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds, and uneven surfaces.
The Fort Lee Safety Office can provide individuals more detailed information upon request. Call 804-765-3127.