An increase in the number of motorcycle deaths suffered by service members has led to new policies designed to improve safety. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 14 percent of motor vehicle fatalities among service members in 2001. By 2008, that figure had climbed to 38 percent according to the Armed Forces Health Center Surveillance Report. In 2008, a total of 113 members of the U.S. Armed Forces dies as a result of motorcycle accidents.
The Department of Defense has taken steps to reduce the number of lives lost to motorcycle crashes. In 2009, it created a mandatory motorcycle safety course for service members who wanted to own a motorcycle. Safety courses must be taken within two months of buying a motorcycle. These courses cover basics, such as how to safety steer, stop and turn a motorcycle.
A safety specialist working at Camp Lejeune indicated that there may be several reasons motorcycle accidents were a problem among members of the Armed Forces. He pointed out that many members of the military are young men and young men are simply more likely to ride motorcycles than other demographics. Another reason given was that many members of the Armed Forces find themselves in a position to buy a motorcycle for the first time in their lives. They may be inexperienced riders who have not had a chance to familiarize themselves with proper safety practices. They may be less prepared to deal with the negligent actions of other motorists or equipment failures.
Motorcycle deaths have steadily risen among all Americans for a long period of time. Safety experts are working to find ways to make motorcyclists safer and prevent needless loss of life.
Source: Star News Online, “Military focuses on reducing motorcycle deaths of servicemen,” by Adam Wagner, 5 December 2012