As spring approaches and temperatures rise, motorists in the Fort Hood area should expect to see an increase in soldier motorcycle riders of all levels of experience sharing the road, but not without potential risks.
A study released in November by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed an increase from 4,630 to 4,957 fatalities and 81,000 to 93,000 injuries in traffic crashes involving motorcycles from 2011 to 2012.
The increase in motorcycle rider injuries and fatalities includes soldiers stationed at Fort Hood.
“It has been six months since the last motorcycle fatality” said James Doherty, director of the III Corps Safety Office. “Fort Hood fatal motorcycle accidents have increased from six in 2012 to seven in 2013.”
The common demographics of soldier motorcycle rider fatalities on Fort Hood are male sport bike riders, ages 22 to 27, said Doherty, who is a motorcycle rider with more than five years riding experience.
“The top three accident causes are (riding at) excessive speed, exceeding (one’s) abilities due to inexperience and failure to maintain following distance — all of which demonstrate a lack of self-discipline,” Doherty said. “The bottom line is that soldier motorcycle riders are responsible for wearing the appropriate motorcycle protective equipment, outlined in the (Accident Prevention and Motorcycle Safety Program) III Corps Command Policy Letter, attending required training and operating their motorcycles safely.”
The Motorcycle Safety Program Policy requires all active-duty military personnel who intend to operate a motorcycle on- or off-post to be properly licensed, to wear the required personal-protective equipment and successfully complete a variety of motorcycle rider safety courses.
Unit leadership is required to appoint Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinators in the rank of sergeant or higher responsible for mentoring novice motorcycle riders on rider education and safety; setting the standard for responsible riding; advising soldiers on licensing, purchasing, and maintenance; and ensuring soldiers successfully complete appropriate training.
“A lack of training is the common trend to motorcycle accidents, even though we (Fort Hood) have a mentorship program and we do well with our mentorship program, there are still inexperienced people (motorcycle riders) that don’t take it (rider safety) seriously,” said Joseph Baez, telecommunications specialist, Network Enterprise Center at Fort Hood and motorcycle rider with more than 38 years of riding experience. “A lot of soldiers leave Fort Hood and don’t wear their PPE because they are with a (motorcycle) club or they’re riding with friends and want to look cool.”
The Fort Hood Motorcycle training campus is located at Building 90069 South Mohawk Drive at West Fort Hood.
“To enroll in courses soldiers must go through their unit Defense Training Management coordinator” Doherty said. “You can’t register at or through the training the site.”