NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The most recent change to the Navy's Traffic Safety Instruction, OPNAVINST 5100.12J, requires commands to set up mentorship programs for motorcycle riders. These programs are designed to give experienced riders the opportunity to teach new riders how to be successful on their bikes.
"Mentors are those who have been through it," said Stan Jones, the Naval Safety Center's Motorcycle Safety Representative and an advisor to mentorship programs across the fleet. "It's a mindset. Experienced riders have the moral authority to provide tips on riding that the training courses don't have the time to go into."
Required training courses, such as the Basic Rider Course and Military Sportbike Rider Course, are designed to teach the basics of bike handling and risk management.
"Training provides the basic skills in a controlled environment, but mentorships are about getting out on the open road, in traffic, riding outside of the square box of a training course," Jones said.
He suggested that Sailors look for mentors who ride the same type motorcycle. Sportbike riders should pair with other sportbike riders and cruiser riders should seek mentors who have experience on cruisers because the nuances of the bikes are different.
He also suggested that the traditional rank structure of the Navy may be relaxed during mentorship discussions and rides.
"There will always be that respect for rank, but it's important to move from that mentality to a rider role. You don't want new riders to feel pressured. They should want to be there," Jones said.
He also pointed out that when it comes to motorcycles, inexperienced riders come in all ages and ranks.
"A Second Class Petty Officer who grew up on sportbikes may be a mentor to a Chief who is just transitioning from a cruiser to a sportbike," he said.
The requirements for mentorship in the instruction leave a lot of latitude for commands to design their own programs. The instruction states, "Commands should tailor the motorcycle mentorship program to address the individual commands' training requirements, ridership, local area and resources available."
To that end, small commands with few riders are permitted to team up with other commands to maximize the mentorship opportunities.
General guidance, pre-ride inspections, and other topics and information for mentorship programs can be found at the Naval Safety Center's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/Pages/ashore/motor_vehicle/Motorcycle .
In fiscal year (FY) 2012, 20 Sailors and Marines lost their lives in motorcycle accidents. As of May 9, 2013, as the spring and summer motorcycle riding season was beginning, that number for FY 2013 stood at 18. Department of the Navy leadership believes preventable deaths like these are simply unacceptable. They have reinvigorated Navy and Marine Corps efforts to ensure the safe use of motor vehicles and motorcycles with the expectation that senior Sailors and Marines set the example of zero tolerance for: unsafe driving, failure to comply with requirements and regulations, and drinking and driving. Under the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, it is expected that leaders at all levels will establish formal policy to ensure any drinking and driving infraction is properly reviewed prior to promotion.
For more information on Navy motorcycle safety policy and requirements, as well as a personal story of one rider who learned some important lessons the hard way, check out All Hands Magazine Online at this link: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/ftrStory.asp?id=74217&issue=3&page=1
For the latest statistics on personal motor vehicle fatalities as well as narratives, visit the Naval Safety Center's website at: http://www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/Pages/statistics/ashore/mv_stats.aspx
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #NavySmartRide and #Motorcycle.
Safety is an important element of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to ensure today's Sailors and Marines serve in the safest, most secure force the Department has ever known.