FALLS CHURCH, Va. — A study of motorcycle fatalities among soldiers conducted by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center earlier this year revealed the number one cause of fatal accidents between 2016 and 2019: mistakes made. by motorcyclists. The study’s findings have prompted ongoing education and training for USACRC motorcyclists to prevent motorcycle accidents.
For all service members who ride motorcycles, knowing how to stay safe while on the road is key to avoiding accidents.
Lucia Sánchez, director of media strategy for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and David Newman, manager of occupational safety and health at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital in Fort Polk, Louisiana, shared tips for new and experienced cyclists. .
• Wearing a helmet is the most effective way to protect yourself from head injury. Wear a motorcycle helmet for every ride, and make sure your passengers have one too. “Checking the fit of your helmet ensures optimal protection,” shared Sánchez. Your helmet must also have a valid US Department of Transportation label. It means your helmet meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Novelty helmets without this label may not meet the same standard and may not provide the best protection needed if you are in a crash.
• Make sure you have a sturdy jacket, pants, boots, and gloves. You must feel comfortable with your team. “Don’t go for the cheapest option. This gear will protect you during falls or crashes when you need it most,” said Newman.
• “Using high-visibility colors and retroreflective materials will maximize drivers’ ability to see you,” Sanchez said. Every vehicle has blind spots, so avoid staying in those areas and lower your chances of getting hit. Staying in your lane also ensures that other drivers see you. Getting in and out of cars can be dangerous and increases your chances of being hit. The Department of Defense has specific guidance for clothing while riding a motorcycle, with variations at each installation, so contact the security office if you plan to ride on base.
• It is important to understand the motorcycle you are riding and how it is handled. “Every bike handles differently, which riders need to be aware of before hitting the road. A safety course taught by an experienced professional is also a great idea, as cyclists can learn to
operate your machine more efficiently,” said Newman.
• “Know and respect your driving skills, instead of pushing the limits and causing unnecessary injuries,” Sanchez shared. When you want to practice driving, do so in a controlled environment, where you can protect yourself and others. Having a friend present is also a good idea, in case help is needed.