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Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011

Leaders need to set example in motorcycle safety

The Bayonet
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Fiscal 2011 has come to a close, and it gives me great pleasure to report our Army has maintained its incredible momentum in fatal accident prevention for a fourth consecutive year. Reducing accidental fatalities during a time of war is unprecedented in our Army’s history, and each of you should be proud of the tremendous job you and your Soldiers have done these past few years.

It hasn’t always been easy, but we keep getting better as an Army at the fundamentals of safety. Thank you for what you do every day.

Every success comes with challenges, and off-duty fatalities continue to be the single-most pressing safety issue facing our Army. Overall, we closed the year about 6 percent above fiscal 2010’s off-duty numbers, primarily due to an 18 percent rise in fatal motorcycle accidents (45 versus 38).

Moving forward, our focus should be on curbing indiscipline. We had several motorcycle fatalities involving speeds of 90 mph or greater during fiscal 2011, and NCOs accounted for 61 percent of the year’s motorcycle deaths. Leaders are critical in our fight against preventable accidents, but when they disregard the standard and act recklessly, it sets a precedent of irresponsible behavior that affects unit personnel on and off duty. The Soldiers these leaders supervise are almost invariably young and impressionable, and this critical time in their careers is our best opportunity to foster a safety mindset.

Indiscipline from any Soldier, but most especially our leaders, is never excusable, and as senior leaders, we have to reach down to our most junior leaders to ensure they are setting and maintaining the highest possible standards within their formations.

As of Oct. 1, the Progressive Training Model is mandatory for all Soldiers riding motorcycles, whether on or off post. New requirements include completion of the Military Sport bike Rider Course or Experienced Rider Course within 12 months of graduation from the Basic Rider Course, followed by sustainment training every three years and refresher training after every 180 days or greater deployed.

Please ensure your commanders understand the updated requirements in Army Regulation 385-10 and enforce the new standard with their Soldier who riders. In addition to the progressing motorcycle training, the Army has also instituted a new Remedial Driver Training program that takes the best in the civilian community and uses it to try and change Soldier behavior before it results in an accident or worse.

Keep up the great work, and I look forward to hearing of even more successes for safety in the months and years ahead. We truly have the best team leading the best Army in the world today.

— Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Stidley U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker

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