CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- “With 360 days of perfect weather, hundreds of miles of scenic ocean views and winding mountain roads, there is a huge appeal to anyone in Southern California desiring to own and ride a motorcycle,” said James McCallister, the I Marine Expeditionary Force director of safety.
Having this environment for riding a motorcycle in Southern California however comes with great risks. According to data from the Naval Safety Center and unit reporting within I MEF, Marines and Sailors from I MEF have had 38 motorcycle-related fatalities in the since 2013.
These numbers, and concern for the welfare of Marines and Sailors, prompted the I MEF commanding general to sign a revision to the I MEF DriveSafe order in December of 2017, now 5101.1B. The new order gives better direction to motorist and commanders to achieve roadway safety.
The DriveSafe order instructs all I MEF Marines and Sailors on proper operation of personal and government vehicles. However, the new order elaborates more on requirements for motorcycle operators.
Changes under the new revision that motorcyclists need to be aware of are: motorcycle endorsements shall be added to a rider’s driver’s license upon completion of training, all I MEF personnel are required to carry the motorcycle training completion card when riding, and personnel who operate motorcycles shall participate in a unit motorcycle mentorship program.
“The goal of the revision is for Marines to recognize that their leadership is genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of all Marines and Sailors under their command,” said McCallister. “Our most valuable and precious asset is our people.”
All motorcyclists are required to attend the basic riders course prior to riding motorcycles. The two-day course teaches riders the basic operations and maneuverability of a motorcycle. Once completed, riders receive a course completion card and have 120 days to complete the advanced riders course. Motorcyclists are required to attend a refresher course once every three years. Not completing these courses invalidates the course completion card and prevents them from riding until required courses are completed.
Preventing motorcycle-related mishaps and the resulting injuries, fatalities and property damage is the overall intent of this new revision.
According to data compiled by the I MEF safety office, in the last five years the majority of fatalities have occurred Friday through Sunday, more than 25% occurred on mountain roads, all have been males with the rank of E-5 or below and every fatality has involved sport bikes.
“At the end of the day, the loss of one life is one life too many,” said McCallister. “The hope is that if more riders are aware of what risks there are to them, it could prevent more loss.”