Retirees, DA civilians and family members are no longer required to take the Motorcycle Basic Rider Course to be certified to ride on post. The course is now open only to service members.
The civilian requirement dates back to January 2009, said Jill Carlson, safety director at the installation Safety Office.
“In that fiscal year, we had two back-to-back motorcycle fatalities, and that’s really what generated the more stringent policy.
That was not a policy-driven requirement,” she said. “In the initial onset of the Army Traffic Safety Training Program, the Department of the Army allotted $6 million for the whole program. That year they spent $46 million.”
Because of costs Armywide, the contracted program is being limited to Soldiers. To enter post on a motorcycle, civilians will need their insurance, registration and license with an endorsement for operating a motorcycle.
The program, which began in 2006, helped reduce the number of driving-related fatalities on post, but focusing on preventive measures is still vital, Carlson said.
“If you look at Fort Benning in the last 10 years, 80 percent of our fatalities have been either in a motorcycle or POV,” she said. “We’ve got the composite risk management down in our training but not in our off-duty life.”
The Motorcycle Safety Training Program includes four courses: basic, experienced, sport bike and refresher. The latter is required for anyone returning to post after more than 120 days of absence, as in the case of redeployment.
“I’m a firm believer in the class,” said Mike Snapp, lead instructor for the motorcycle program. “I’ve been teaching now since 2002. We’ve yet to have anybody walk away and say we didn’t learn something, even folks who’ve been riding for 30 years. Everybody learns something.”
Master Sgt. Scott Boston, who completed the basic course Wednesday, said he’s been riding since childhood, but the class was helpful, with its focus on hands-on training and practical instruction.
“(It) lets you know how well the motorcycle you’re riding handles and what you can and cannot do on it,” he said. “This is a new motorcycle for me, so it’s a good time to go through the course.”
The classroom portion of the course covered avoiding potholes, crossing railroad tracks, staying aware of traffic and other day-to-day necessities. The next two half days were spent putting the knowledge into practice at Lawson Army Airfield.
“It’s amazing the folks who (think) ‘well, my friend can do it so I can.’ There are a lot of times they get out here and realize it’s tougher than it looks,” Snapp said. “We have an opportunity here where Soldiers can try it before they buy it by using our training bikes.”
Riders who have been driving a motorcycle for about six months should take the Experienced Rider Course, said Snapp, who has been riding motorcycles since 1980 but said he still needs to focus on maintaining his skills.
“Ultimately, it’s about safety. There’s a lot more risk involved than there is driving your car, and we try to impress that upon our students,” he said. “To get your skills brushed up on is always a good thing. The additional training is there. It’s free. Come get it.”
To see a list of available classes, visit https://airs.lmi.org. Each class has a maximum of 12 slots, with six spaces reserved for drivers who don’t own a motorcycle and want to use one of the training bikes.