Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. --
The Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron motorcycle club held a meeting aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort May 12 for motorcycle safety awareness month to discuss safety concerns and plans for their upcoming quarterly group ride.
“The rides are put together once a quarter to help the riders get comfortable with riding in groups and to promote camaraderie with the Marines and sailors,” said GySgt. Lyle McIntyre, staff noncommissioned officer of station fuels, and H&HS Motorcycle Club President.
Safety inspections are typically performed prior to a group ride. The inspection checks for tire condition, controls, lights, oil, chassis and side stand, to ensure the riders have a safe ride.
“An accident can happen at a moment’s notice, so you need to be attentive to your fellow riders and your surroundings,” said McIntyre.
The Marines ride in groups of eight, with the least experienced in the front of the group. Each group keeps a special eye on the new riders, making sure they all get to their destination safely. There is a formal safety course held aboard the air station that teaches the foundation of riding and operating a motorcycle.
“The basic rider’s course is a step-by-step process on how to ride a motorcycle, going over controls, braking, and cornering techniques,” said Adam Gray, the traffic safety manager for MCAS Beaufort.
Braking and cornering are two methods riders can use to avoid colliding with another vehicle or object. Students are taught these methods during BRC, getting them comfortable with basic skills and knowledge on quickly stopping their motorcycles.
“The classroom portion of the course talks about personal protective equipment, hazards, and all the moving parts of a motorcycle,” said Gray.
Before touching a motorcycle, all riders in the course must attend safety courses, and pass a written test to move on to the practical application segment. All riders are tested on key elements taught in the classroom, as well as traffic signs and laws.
“I learned the basic fundamentals of riding when I was in the course,” said Sgt. Duran Moore, station fuels. “I learned clutch control, throttle control, proper riding position, gear, and the traffic laws on and off base.”
Different rules apply to riders while aboard military installations. Riders must wear a helmet, eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and a hard-soled shoe that covers the ankle. Unlike riding in a car and having the protective cage around their bodies, riders depend on their gear to keep them safe.
“I encourage drivers to put their cellphones down, turn their heads, and keep a lookout for riders,” said Gray. In 2015, distracted driving was the cause for 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in South Carolina, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 7.7 percent of all traffic fatalities in South Carolina were from motorcycle accidents, with a head injury being the leading cause of death. Staying out of blind spots and revving the throttle can make cars aware you are around by being seen and heard.
“I think drivers should be more attentive, not follow so close, use proper turning signals, and overall be more observant of us riders,” said Moore. “Loud pipes save lives.”
Every Marine is essential to the overall success of the mission of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps enforces safety awareness to maintain troop welfare so everyone is ready for the fight.