motorcycle parts accessories
and more

...for everyone who loves to ride...

Marines lack motorcycle safety training

The majority of Marines and sailors killed in motorcycle accidents during the past two years did not have documentation showing they'd completed the required rider safety course training. According to AlSafe message 076/07, 79 percent of those killed in fiscal 2007 and the fiscal year that began in October either had no training or no documented training, which is a Corps requirement. The statistics, which the Corps began tracking 10 years ago, also show that 19 Marines died in motorcycle crashes last fiscal year, making 2007 the deadliest in several years. And this fiscal year, things aren't substantially better, with eight Marines dying as a result of motorcycle wrecks since October, according to the Naval Safety Center.

"We had a very bad start," said Pete Hill, safety engineer for Marine Corps headquarters' safety division. "We have seen a fairly steady decline since the beginning of the fiscal year." But given the size of the force - nearly 200,000 Marines - statistically the Corps is where it was last fiscal year in terms of motorcycle deaths, Hill said. Meanwhile, both the Army and the Navy have seen improvements in their motorcycle death ratios, he said.

There are different theories as to why, but no solid statistics reveal what's behind the problem. What is known is that most riders who died this year were going too fast into a curve. They were all riding sports bikes, which are cheaper and offer a much higher power-to-weight ratio than cruisers.

A Corps-wide message is being developed that will spell out new motorcycle regulations, according to Marine Corps headquarters officials. The Corps' Executive Safety Board announced plans March 14 for a motorcycle safety operational planning team, with representatives from Marine Corps Installations-East; MCI-West; I Marine Expeditionary Force; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; and MCB Hawaii directed to "study best practices and provide recommendations" to the upcoming ESB meeting in August.

In the latest attempt to get Marines to comply with the nearly eight-year-old Marine Corps Order 5100.19E that spells out motorcycle rules, MCI-East leaders came up with a policy early this year that re-emphasizes the order and standardizes its implementation. "It was a concern across the region here, in that every installation commander interpreted the Marine Corps order differently," said Stan Dutko, MCI-East deputy safety manager.

One issue was that commanders were not allowing Marines to receive the 30-day temporary base registration pass required for them to ride their bikes on an installation. The order states only that commanders "may authorize" the temporary registration.

"They chose not to," Dutko said. "Across all MCI-East installations, six months ago, you could not get temporary registration."

This meant that commands, such as II MEF at Camp Lejeune, N.C., could not easily identify new motorcycle riders because they were not allowed to ride on base until they completed a rider safety course. Marines who choose not to take the course or register on base often find ways to keep their bike ownership secret.

They're considered to be part of an "underground motorcycle community" Dutko said, and some of them are caught only after they've been involved in an accident. In a recent example, four Marines riding their motorcycles March 1 along a two-lane road outside Jacksonville all crashed at once. The lead motorcyclist tried to make a left turn, lost control and caused a chain of accidents among the other three motorcyclists.

Because of an agreement the base has with local authorities, the North Carolina Highway Patrol turned its report on the incident over to officials at Camp Lejeune, where the four Marines are stationed, Dutko said.

"All four of the motorcyclists were not registered on the base," he said. Fortunately, no one was killed in the wreck. "There are a lot of Marines who ride motorcycles right now who choose to ride them off post," he said. "It's larger than a lot of us would guess right now. That's the whole thing we're trying to curtail. The thought process behind this whole thing is to make it a little bit easier for the Marine to do the right thing. Now, the Marine can come on the base, he can get a temporary pass … and that allows the command to identify them as a new motorcycle rider."

The temporary pass also gives Marines the opportunity to ride in an environment where they're likely to be more cautious. Whether on a motorcycle or in a car, Marines driving on an installation tend to be a little more careful because of tighter policing on base, Dutko said.

MCI-East enacted the new policy in January. Since then, Marines who drive motorcycles between any of the seven installations running from Virginia south to Florida should have noticed more uniformity in the rules. Comments from motorcyclists across the region caught the attention of commanders, who got word up the chain that different rules were being applied at different bases. Dutko said one example pertained to a rule about wearing long sleeves. The order states that a "properly worn long-sleeved shirt or jacket" is to be worn while riding. At Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., that was interpreted as a jacket. At Camp Lejeune, the camouflage utility blouse was considered appropriate. As a result, Marines making the more than 30-minute drive from the base to the air station wearing only their utility blouses were turned away at the air station's gate, Dutko said. Other articles of clothing under the order's personal protective equipment section were also interpreted differently. The order calls for hard-sole shoes with a heel, and some installations considered that to mean over-the-ankle boots, something encouraged, but not required. "The reflective vest is probably the most controversial PPE thing we have," Dutko said. According to the order, bright-colored clothing is OK to wear during the day. But some bases said a reflective vest had to be worn day and night. "We've chosen now to enforce the Marine Corps order that says during the daylight hours, you don't have to wear a reflective vest," Dutko said. "We went back and said, 'there's no easier way to do that than to follow the exact guidance of the Marine Corps order.'" But, for whatever reason, that's a concept seemingly not worth it for some Marines. "Everyone seems to think they have this option," Hill said. "We're really not out there trying to pick on riders. The problems we have with motorcycle drivers is they're really not following the rules. The feeling from the top down here is anyone violating a Marine Corps order, they're subject to the UCMJ."

(Go to URL)
Return from Marines lack motorcycle safety training to the Motorcycle Parts home page

Web this site

Choppers Apparel

More motorcycle info
...coming soon...

Recent Entries
Motorcycle parts categories
motorcycle parts articles

What readers are saying

Great website! (Nathan, UK)
Hi, your articles on motorcycle kits are very interesting.Good site! (Patrick, Canada)
...keep up the great work. (Carl, Texas)

Main Articles

Subscribe !
Choose your reader