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United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Military Rider 2013

May 01, 2012

The Defense Department marks the start of prime motorcycle riding weather by designating each May as Motorcycle Safety Month. This special report highlights DOD and service-related efforts to enhance the safety and overall riding experience for service members and veterans through training, mentorship and education.

What not to do!

By Don Borkoski
Naval Safety Center

Every rider has a story to tell and more than a few lies to cover up bone-head mistakes. Maybe we can take a cue from Naval Aviators who learned long ago that sharing stories of stupidity just may save a buddies life.

Here are a few stories that people have shared with the Safety Center. Names have been removed to protect the not so innocent ;-)

  • A rider coach asked the BRC class if anyone had been in a crash. No one would fess up so the class when on. When everyone geared up and went out to their bikes, the coach noticed a huge scratch down the side of a sportbike and the conversation went like this:
    • Ouch, what happened there?
    • Oh, I bought it that way.
    • Hmmm, your jacket is torn pretty good. Same side as the crash.
    • Yea, I got the jacket with the bike.
    • Boots too?
    • Ahhh, no, I did that when I lean into curves
    • You really need your blinker and a new mirror on that damaged side….
    • Just then another student came into the conversation, "dude, this mirror looks just like yours. I found it with the plastic pieces heading into the range!
    You guessed it. Before class started the young guy dropped his bike heading into the lot!
  • "I'm a fairly new rider, but I'm pretty safe. I don't do a detailed TCLOCS inspection but I do a walk around on my cruiser before every ride. It had just rained and as I approached the red-light, the bike didn't stop at all!!!! I let the clutch out, got traction back and white lined between the cars until the bike stopped, thankfully before the intersection! That scared the crap out of me, my heart was racing, and I was looking around and glad I didn't hit anything or drop the bike. When I looked at the tires I almost fainted when I saw the back tire was bald. I have saddlebags so I don't really look at the back tire, I always check the front and it had plenty of tread. I had no idea they would wear so differently until the mech told me the back tire always wears out faster because it's the drive wheel. Who knew?!
  • A Navy rider was cut off in an intersection by a pick-up truck. She braked as best as she could but the bike still plowed into the side panel. The rider stood up on the bike pegs and literally "supermanned" over the hood of the truck. Luckily traffic stopped and she didn't get hit by another vehicle as she rolled on the road. The bike was totaled and the rider had minor bruises and scrapes. She says she owes her life to good braking and better flying.
  • Being careful with the front break before the tires warm up is huge. I ride a sportbike and I was leaving my neighborhood for work. Back then, I only use the front brake. I thought that's where all the traction was. I stopped at a stop sign and pulled out making a right turn. I touched the front brake and next thing I know I'm sliding across the road. Good thing I had sliders or I may have broken my leg. I didn't know what happened at the time. I looked for gravel, or grease, but the road surface was perfect. I didn't even think it was my fault until I took the bike to the shop for repairs. The clerk asked where I crashed. I didn't even talk about the details and he said, "Front brake, cold tires, happens all the time". I wish someone had told me before $3800.00 in repairs.
  • I was splitting lanes in California driving into the base during rush hour traffic. It's legal and traffic was moving slowly. I do it all the time so I was just buzzing past the traffic until I hit the U-haul mirror attached to the small truck I was passing. I stayed on the bike but scratched three cars and my bike before coming to a lucky safe stop.
  • Top 10 ways to lose "cool points"
    1. Forget to put the kickstand down before you dismount
    2. Forget to put the kickstand up before you go
    3. Start the bike when it's in gear and your hand is not on the clutch, especially if you are not on it
    4. Pop the clutch at an intersection. That always draws attention
    5. Run out of gas because you left the valve on reserve
    6. Stop on the center "hill" at an intersection and not be able to reach the ground in the worn tire gullies
    7. Come to a stop without pulling in the clutch
    8. Cruising down the highway in a cheap rain suit looking like marshmallow man
    9. Don't tell your passenger to wait until you are ready before they get on
    10. Don't warn your passenger to hold on when you take off

We all make stupid mistakes, but riding a motorcycle is very unforgiving and even small mistakes can be expensive, hazardous or even deadly. Learn from your mistakes. Share your experience at group meetings so others learn from you. The roads are more dangerous than ever for motorcycles. Drive like your life depends on it….it does!

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