WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Statistics released recently by the Naval Safety Center revealed that 24 Navy personnel lost their lives during the 2009 summer months.
Tyree Hudson, Naval Support Activity Washington (NSAW) traffic safety program manager said that two of the major concerns in the region revolve around motor vehicle and motorcycle safety.
"We get an abundance of those in the summer months," said Hudson.
Navy and Marine Corps both saw decreases in fatalities from motorcycle accidents in fiscal year 2009 down by 61 percent for Sailors and 44 percent for Marines, but the Navy still experienced 13 motorcycle related fatalities.
"The safe riding of motorcycles is an incredibly serious business," said George Revoir, Naval District Washington (NDW) regional traffic safety manager and training coordinator. "It's absolutely fun, some of the most exhilarating fun you can have, but it can be deadly if you are not very serious about safety."
A resource used by the Safety Center is the Honda Smart Motorcycle Awareness and Recognition Trainer (SMART) simulator that introduces riders to the safe riding of a motorcycle in a controlled environment.
"The simulator can easily and effectively simulate all aspects of riding a motorcycle to include, city, mountain, rural, nighttime, rainy and foggy road conditions," said Revoir. "We can do [the training] in the safety of an inside environment where there is a do-over in case something happens. Quite often, sadly, when you ride a motorcycle you don't get that do-over."
Motorcycle training is offered by the Safety Center and is free to all members of the military, including dependants and contractors. All motorcycle training must be logged in the web-enabled Enterprise Safety Application Management System, or ESAMS, which can be accessed at www.navymotorcyclerider.com.
Personnel have 30 days from purchasing a motorcycle to receive the mandated training. This training is mandatory for those who plan to operate their motorcycle on base, Hudson said.
The motorcycle training courses and the sports bike training course are offered at Fort Meade, Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River and Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren.
The Basic Rider Course (BRC) 1 includes 250cc training bikes. The military furnishes the bikes, helmets and the proper safety gear and instructors teach riders how to safely ride the bike.
"It is designed so that when you complete that course, you can go down and make your purchase of a bike," said Revoir. "Then go down to the license bureau and be confident enough that you'll be able to pass the course to get the motorcycle stamp on your license."
The next step after the BRC is what is called an Experienced Rider Course (ERC). This is a course that Navy motorcycle riders have to recertify every three years.
"It's a very good course and we have some individuals who sign up for it and take the ERC every year at the beginning of the season to help get them ready," said Revoir. "It helps them get their thinking caps on for riding safely for the coming year. That's not required, that's just something that those individuals choose to do which I think is very intuitive."
The next step up is a Military Sport Bike Training Course. Sports bikes are higher performance motorcycles that can reach speeds up to 180 mph and according to the Naval Safety Center, sport bike incidents account for the majority of motorcycle related fatalities.
"Cruiser style bikes have an entirely different riding posture, procedures and riding attitude than a sport bike and vice versa," said Revoir. "So, those riders that ride a sport bike need to take the sport bike training class. We are not teaching them how to hot dog or race the bike and hopefully they learn enough on the course not to do that on the street. What we teach them is how to operate that bike in a more safe and sane posture and attitude."
An added benefit to taking the motorcycle training course is the discount that insurance companies provide upon completion.
"Most insurance companies provide a 10 percent discount to people who have taken the Basic Rider Course," said Don Borkoski, the motorcycle manager at the Naval Safety Center.
Motor vehicle accidents are another priority for the region and according to Hudson there were five motor vehicle accidents involving a pedestrian on NSAW last year.
"To decrease the number of pedestrian/vehicle accidents we moved some crosswalks, increased lighting and placed some new stop signs on O Street," said Hudson. "We also have an officer early in the morning in the vicinity of those stop signs so we can get personnel to use the crosswalks and vehicles to stop at the stop signs."
The NSAW safety office will conduct a safety standdown June 30. There are two safety briefings, at 9 a.m. at the Auditorium Room 315 building 220 (Marine Corps Institute), and 1 p.m. at the Admiral Gooding Center.
For more news from Naval District Washington, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/ndw/.