Military Plans Motorcycle Safety Classes



Due to the rising number of servicemen killed in motorcycle accidents the last few years, the military has begun to institute training courses for those who plan on riding them. So far, there have been 25 Marines killed in motorcycle accidents in 2008. This is up from 19 in 2007. In 2004, only seven Marines were killed in motorcycle accidents. Many more have been injured.

To try and stem a trend that has become worrisome to officers in the different branches of the military, safety programs have been instituted and trainers sent to different bases across the U.S. and overseas. These groups include the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization which has trained millions of motorcyclists, and Cape Fox Professional Services. Last month the Marine Corps and Navy signed a five-year $52 million contract with Cape Fox Professional Services to provide an off-duty safety program.

Although Marines have been required to take motorcycle safety courses for years, the classes will now be tailored to what type of motorcycle the troops ride. The most popular motorcycle is the sports bike, and it is the sports bike that has been the bane to many service members killed and injured.

While those involved with the safety programs would like to see the accident rates go down to zero, new ways of getting Marines and sailors to think about safety may be the best approach. Robert Gladden, a program director for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, says that emphasizing “unit cohesion” may help. “A Marine would never do anything to hurt his unit. Marines would never do anything to risk themselves or their buddies in combat. So why would they do that driving down I-5?”

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation preaches a mantra of road and risk awareness and attitude in their Sports Bike Rider Course. The five main points are:

  • Get trained and licensed
  • Wear protective gear
  • Drive unimpaired
  • Ride within your limits
  • Be a lifelong learner

By getting those taking the course to feel more confident on their motorcycle, and living with these five messages whenever they climb on a bike, it is hoped the accident rates among service members can drop significantly.