2017 Not a Good Year for Motorcycle Riders

By Brad Loftis

Motorcycle fatalities for the Navy in fiscal year 2017 exceeded the number of fatalities from both fiscal years 2015 and 2016. Even though fiscal years 2015 and 2016 were historically low years with 12 fatalities each, does not mean we should accept an upward trend back to the 10-year average of 17.6 fatalities. Our goal should always be the reduction of the fatality rate each year.

According to Naval Safety Center data, more personnel are lost per year in personal motor vehicle (PMV) mishaps than in any other type of fatality. To combat this and help stop this negative trend, the Safety Center is aggressively raising awareness. Our safety promotion strategy includes yearly safety campaigns, articles in our safety magazines, and weekly “Rider Down” reports. Our subject-matter experts are more focused on conducting in-depth ongoing mishap analysis to identify trends and factors for dissemination up the chain and out to the Naval Enterprise. Additionally, since we switched from conducting safety surveys in 2015, we have been providing assessment teams to review command rider programs and pursuing a new motorcycle training program called REST (riders essential skills training). This new program will potentially provide training at more realistic speeds to simulate actual riding conditions and improve skill sets.

Leadership involvement is needed at the command level to ensure motorcycle riders and motorcycle safety representatives have the support and backing of the chain of command. Leaders at all levels should show interest and promote this vital safety program. Some items that can be done at the command level are as follows: start a mentorship program, inform new check-ins about the safety program, conduct group rides, coordinate a track day, advertise the program, and hold monthly meetings. Motorcycle riders need to ride by example, be good role models for other riders, wear all PPE, share experiences and encourage others to participate in the safety program.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Motorcycle Safety Foundation

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