Ride safe: Motorcycle training, reimbursement

May is motorcycle safety awareness month. Throughout the month, the Office of Safety and Environmental Health will provide motorcycle safety related information in an effort to increase awareness and lower mishap rates among Coast Guard riders.

 Written by Dale Wisnieski

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Motorcycle Safety training – More than just a requirement

Commandant policy requires all Coast Guard riders to take motorcycle safety training. Training is required prior to riding your motorcycle, regardless of whether you intend to ride on base, and refresher training is required every five years. While many riders have embraced the policy, older more experienced riders have pushed back and are reluctant to be in compliance.

Motorcycle safety training policy was not implemented to make riding in the military difficult. You may not be aware, but the number one cause of fatalities for Coast Guard personnel is motor vehicle and motorcycle mishaps.

The policy was implemented because we want to give our riders the knowledge and skills necessary to be a safer rider.

Regardless of what policy is in place, I want to concentrate this week’s blog on why riders should focus on the benefits of training vice meeting a requirement.

Coast Guard operations require members to become proficient in their craft. Every member starts his or her careers in a training environment. Although showing up to boot camp and getting yelled at is not what I call fun training, it is part of the training process.

I once worked for a U.S. Navy admiral who compared motorcycle training for flight training.   You don’t become a proficient pilot by just going through flight school. Proficiency comes in the form of training and operations. The same can be said for motorcycle riding. To become a proficient rider you need the skills necessary to manage your risks. Motorcycle safety training can provide that.

What do you think motorcycle safety training can do for you? Think about that question for a second. Do you believe that your skills are so proficient that there is no level of training that can increase your skill level? The answer should be no. Regardless of how long you have been riding, or the type of motorcycle you ride, there is training that can take you to the next level.

Motorcycle safety training has evolved over the years. In the early stages, training focused on introductory level information and skills. Over the past eight years, training has turned to focus on the decision making process while riding. Skill based training is great and needed; however, making poor decisions while riding is what is killing riders.

Basic and intermediate motorcycle training are not the only training available. Track schools, and police motorcycle training for civilians are courses that can provide more technical skills. Don’t look at track schools as only for sport bike riders. Many of the skills used on sport bikes can be used on cruisers and touring models. While many of these courses are centered in certain areas, they are available. Ask your local dealer or go online and search for specialized motorcycle training. You may find a course that is closer than you think.

I frequently get asked the following questions:

What training meets the training requirement outlined in COMDT M5100.47A Chapter 16?

Any on-motorcycle training that provides a certificate of completion can satisfy the requirement. Online training does not satisfy the policy requirement.

Is the motorcycle safety training reimbursement still available and what courses qualify for reimbursement?

Yes. The Coast Guard will only reimburse for basic (level 1) and intermediate (level 2) training offered through a state sponsored motorcycle safety program. Basic and intermediate training offered through Harley Davidson or a private provider is reimbursable as long as the training you take is approved by the state in which you live.

Recently I have been seeing motorcycle safety reimbursement claims that are being completed by command admin staff or members supervisors. The claim form (SF1164) needs to be completed and signed by the member. No other command signatures are required.

Information regarding the reimbursement program can be found on the Coast Guard’s motor vehicle safety webpage.

Motorcycle safety training begins to establish the confidence needed to navigate America’s streets and highways. Take advantage of every training opportunity presented.

Motorcycle safety training is more than a policy requirement – it can save your life.

Ride Safe!

If you would like to get involved or need additional information on improving you unit’s motorcycle safety program, please contact Dale A. Wisnieski via email or at 202-475-5206.