The summer is upon us. It is a time when Marines and civilians alike more frequently pull their motorcycles out of the garage and take them to the road.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website, www.nhtsa.dot.gov, more than four million motorcycles are registered in the United States and statistics show summer is when more motorcycle accidents occur.
Approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent.
Because riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, Marines and Sailors must meet certain requirements before revving the engine and rumbling down the street. To help prepare for the safety hazards of motorcycle riding, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command hosted a motorcycle rally here, July 2.
To deliberately stand out, the Marines and Sailors rode a 60 mile route through Camp Lejeune and the surrounding community sporting their brightly-colored safety vests and other safety gear.
“The point of this ride is to basically have fun and promote motorcycle safety,” said Master Sgt. Randy Tootle, MARSOC G-4 Logistics and Operations Chief.
According to Tootle, MARSOC Commander, Major Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, wants to raise safety awareness among all personnel within MARSOC.
Approximately 20 Marines participated in the ride, each decked out in personal protective equipment that reflected a unique style of motorcycle and clothing and at the same time complied with Marine Corps safety orders.
According to Carol G. Bayne, MARSOC Safety Director, all military and civilian personnel assigned to units on Camp Lejeune are required to wear PPE as identified in the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulations Marine Corps Order P5660.2M when riding either on or off base.
The following PPE is required:
• A properly fastened helmet approved by the Department of Transportation, Snell Memorial Foundation or American National Safety Institute.
• Eye protection (impact or shatter resistant goggles or full-face shield attached to the helmet).
• Hard sole boots or shoes that protect the ankles (sandals, open toe, or soft-shell athletic shoes are prohibited).
• Long legged trousers.
• Full-finger leather gloves.
• Long sleeve jacket.
• Reflective vest that is international orange, bright yellow or lime green in color.
“The PPE worn by a motorcyclist provides the only defense against injury in a crash,” said Bayne, a native of Pembroke, N.C. “One fatality or injury is one too many, and the Marine Corps has already lost 11 Marines this year alone.”
One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash.
By wearing appropriate protective equipment that makes a rider easier for others to see, motorcycle riders increase their chances of surviving an accident and, perhaps more important, they increase their chances of avoiding a potentially fatal accident completely.
“It’s important for us to wear our safety gear because you never know what could happen,” said Staff Sgt. Derric D. Threatt, Information Assurance Chief for MARSOC’s Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, who rode at the rally with his 10-year-old daughter, Adia. “I want to make sure Adia knows the proper safety gear and other precautions you need to use when riding.”
To further help promote safety, Tootle is helping to set up motorcycle clubs throughout MARSOC’s five major subordinate commands: the MSOAG Marine Special Operations School; both Marine Special Operations Battalions; and the Marine Special Operations Support Group.
“The clubs won’t be mandatory, but they will help ensure that people are following the rules set forth and get people together for future rides,” said Tootle, a rider for more than 35 years. “They will also help ensure situational awareness is on the mind of everyone who rides.”
According to the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned website, www.mccll.usmc.mil, safety records show more American troops have died on U.S. roads in off-duty motorcycle accidents after they returned from Afghanistan than have been killed fighting there since 2001.
Due to statistics like these, MARSOC wants to make sure its Marines are properly prepared for the upcoming months of motorcycle fun.
“We want all Marines to be safe and wear the proper PPE,” said Tootle. “The MCCLL Safety Corner is a great starting point for anyone wanting to find information about riding.”