Riding Within the Regs
Being Mindful of Military Motorcycle Maxims
May 2, 2014
There isn’t anything quite like being on a motorcycle. It’s a more “hands on” experience than driving a car, you are more connected to your surroundings—the wind in your face and, well, the bugs in your teeth—and it all makes you feel more…free, as if there’s nothing holding you back.
But that freedom comes with responsibility, especially if you’re in the military. This is because there are a few more rules to follow when riding on post than when riding around town. The good news is that following those rules will make you a better—and safer—motorcycle rider in the long run.
One of first things you will need to do (well, after buying your bike) is to ensure you have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), which is a key to keeping you safe in case of an accident. This includes a DOT-approved helmet, shatterproof eye protection (such as a visor or goggles—sunglasses do NOT count), gloves, pants, correct footwear, and a long-sleeve shirt. And note that you have to wear your helmet on post, even if the state or city in which you are located doesn’t require you to wear one.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just purchased your first bike, or have been riding for longer than the average corporal has been alive—everyone who wants to ride on post has to complete approved safety courses. The number and type of courses are dependent upon the branch. For example, the Marine Corps has different courses and programs depending on the type of motorcycle you own, while others require a class from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
While some of you might find such classes to be below your skill level, they do serve as great reminders. Let’s be real: everyone needs to brush up on their skills now and then. The classes also may provide you with scenarios you have yet to encounter and, even better, equip you to handle them.
You’ll also want to make sure you know what all of the rules of your installation and branch are before you ride, as some might not be covered in your motorcycle safety course. The Air Force, for example, requires you to wear reflective clothing, while some locations require you to wear boots or other footwear that is higher than your ankle.
Before you think you can bend a rule here and there and not have any issues, keep in mind that not wearing proper PPE while on a motorcycle is a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for “failure to obey a lawful order.” So keep that in mind before pushing the limits of what you can and cannot do.
Knowing and following these rules might seem like a bit of a hassle, but they are there for a reason: to keep you safe. And the safer you are, the more you’ll enjoy the freedom that a motorcycle offers.
The following links provide more detailed information about what you need to do to ride within the regs.