A Specialist assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, died in a PMV-2 mishap 11 November 2021 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, at 2330 local. The Soldier was operating his motorcycle in an apartment complex parking lot when he lost control and collided with two parked vehicles. He was evacuated to the local hospital and pronounced dead upon arrival by the attending physician. At this time, it is unknown who notified 911 and reported the mishap. The specific circumstances of the mishap, including speed and use of personal protective equipment, are also unknown. Alcohol or drugs were not a contributing factor to the mishap. The Soldier was not licensed and did not complete the required Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses. The safety/unit points of contact are waiting for Fayetteville Police Department to release their final report.
Since 2017, the Army has lost an average of 25 Soldiers a year to off-duty PMV-2 mishaps. This mishap was the third off-duty PMV-2 fatality of FY22.
At some point, many people flirt with the idea of riding a motorcycle. It is a noble goal, but not without plenty of obstacles - and that is before traffic even comes into play. How can anyone learn to ride without a license - or even without a bike? What if the new bike shows up, along with a big box of expensive gear, and riding just is not your thing? Truthfully, the whole idea - being among cars without the same protection offered by a car - can be somewhat scary.
For new riders, especially, a motorcycle safety course can provide a solution to most of these problems.
Counting down from 10, here are some tips to support why you should take training, beyond the fact that it is a regulatory requirement.10: Motorcycle Safety Foundation-based courses are reputable
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's riding courses are the only such program in the world, and the organization carefully maintains its reputation and high standards. The MSF certifies its own coaches and provides certification programs. Many independent and state-sponsored schools use the MSF curriculum and employ MSF-certified coaches.
Courses are conducted throughout the riding season but availability varies by location. Motorcycle experience is not necessary for beginning courses, but some schools recommend that students be comfortable on a bicycle so the riding posture and balance are not very new sensations. Course tuition also varies depending on location. In some areas, costs are subsidized by corporations (like motorcycle manufacturers), government safety or training programs, or other nonprofits (like safety awareness organizations).
There are some guidelines to follow when selecting a course; any high quality program should be happy to provide this information. Reputable schools use late-model motorcycles, regularly inspected and certified according to local safety laws. At a good school, classes will be small so the instructors can pay attention to everyone. Schools' websites should provide the information necessary to prepare for class, such as what will happen during inclement weather, whether students need a motorcycle permit or if just a driver's license will suffice, fill out any liability forms required, and whether the state licensing exam is available after completing the course.9: Motorcycle safety courses improve the hobby's reputation
Scary fact: More than half of all motorcycle crashes involve riders with fewer than five months of experience. Motorcycling does not enjoy a flawless public perception, but the sport's advocates believe that if riders hold themselves to a higher standard, some of the negative misconceptions about motorcycles - namely, that most riders are reckless and disregard the safety of themselves and fellow motorists - might diminish over time. Riders gain more respect by taking the time to attend training.
Even careful, responsible riders must face the realities of the sport's reputation. Being injured is an ongoing concern for new and experienced riders alike. Although nothing can guarantee that a rider will not get hurt, the intent of motorcycle training is to prepare all riders to cope with a variety of situations and enjoy the road as safely as possible.
A rider who is serious about the hobby should be properly educated and trained and ride appropriately, to avoid undermining these efforts.8: The most popular motorcycle safety courses are designed for novice riders
Basic courses are the first step for all new riders, and the cornerstone of a quality motorcycle safety-training program. This level provides expert instruction and observed practice in a safe and comfortable environment, so new riders will be less overwhelmed when they finally hit the road solo.
If instruction at this level sounds too basic, there are many other options for more experienced riders.7: Refresher courses help with forgotten or neglected skills
There are a variety of courses for riders with some experience, but desire a bit of professional attention. Perhaps it has been a while, due to an injury or illness, because the weather has been bad or because the rider decide to re-enter the sport. Maybe life just got in the way and took the focus off riding. Better to seek help and regain the necessary confidence than to take a risk with stale skills.
Whatever the reason, a motorcycle safety course can help whip a lapsed rider right back into shape.6: Experienced rider? Try an intermediate course
Eager to recapture the thrill of those early days on a motorcycle? In an intermediate class, designed for experienced riders, instructors will examine skills with a fresh eye, offer new techniques to enhance the riding experience and provide feedback to correct bad habits.
Specific course offerings vary by school and location, but there are many options for experienced riders. There are a few different levels of basic skill enhancement, as well as courses designed specifically for street riding.
Many schools require intermediate students to bring their own motorcycles to the class - that way, instructors can focus on refining skills and students are not distracted by operating an unfamiliar vehicle. Any of these courses (or similar courses offered by a local school) will improve the quality of life for a motorcycle enthusiast. There is always room for improvement, after all.5: Some motorcycle safety courses offer specialized skill training
Thanks in part to high gas prices, scooters are rising in popularity. Scooters are different from motorcycles mainly because most of them feature automatic transmissions and they are easier to ride. However, some scooters are even more powerful than an average bike. Since scooters are especially popular in urban areas with heavy traffic, it is important to learn to ride properly. If made in advance, some motorcycle schools will teach the basic course to students on scooters. Other schools offer scooter-specific training courses.
Many schools offer advanced courses for general, yet in-depth, refinement of skill and technique.4: It is a smarter investment than blindly buying a bike
It is a lot of fun to browse eBay and Craigslist, so it is understandable that many new riders have selected a few potential bikes before getting a grasp on the state's licensing requirements.
Looks are not everything. It is easy to believe the best way to get experience is on a newly purchased motorcycle, but in fact, the opposite is true. Most motorcycle safety courses provide helmets and motorcycles for the hands-on instruction segments of the entry-level class (but of course, check with the school first - students sometimes need to bring their own gloves and other protective equipment). For new riders, taking a course is an inexpensive way to try riding, without making the full investment in a bike and gear, not to mention maintenance and insurance.
After completing a motorcycle safety course, it is easier to make a more educated decision about buying. Riders will gain some insight about what kind of motorcycles they would prefer to own, and the school's instructors might be willing to provide valuable advice. Some schools have a variety of bikes in the fleet, so students can switch it up and try different types, and the class instruction segment of the course sometimes covers the basics of choosing a motorcycle. It will be easier to go shopping after completing the course, since motorcycle dealerships will not allow test rides to prospective buyers without motorcycle licenses. An investment of several thousand dollars, or more, is not cheap - there is little point in buying a motorcycle up front, only to find out that riding it is not as appealing as you imagined.3: Possible insurance discounts... and other benefits
Some insurance providers will give a discount on motorcycle insurance after completion of a certified motorcycle safety course. The discount usually ranges from five to 20 percent, depending on the particular insurance carrier. Motorcycle insurance is not cheap, so these savings can be substantial. Sometimes, a rider will break even on taking the course. The discount is not only for new riders. A motorcycle rider who takes a course might still be eligible for this benefit - it is always worth asking the insurance agent.
Sometimes, there are other financial benefits to completing a motorcycle course. When shopping for a brand new motorcycle after completing a motorcycle safety course, ask the salesperson or check the manufacturer's website to see if they offer any discounts or bonuses.2: It is a faster path to a motorcycle license
The local motor vehicle registration office is rarely a pleasant experience. Imagine strolling in to take the motorcycle-licensing exam, trudging out to a parking lot and working it like a show pony while the examiner yells out commands. Kind of intimidating, right?
Now consider that in some states, successful completion of a motorcycle safety course or other recognized programs can allow a rider to bypass the written or riding portions of the motorcycle license exam, and in a few states, riders qualify for a motorcycle license immediately and automatically after passing the course. Some schools work with the state to offer the riding exam on site, under the same conditions as the course's instruction, and students can use the same motorcycles. That should give a boost of confidence to nervous riders!
Some schools require students to hold a current motorcycle permit (in many states, available based on the completion of a written test); others require only a valid driver's license. However, that is the easy part. Since state laws vary widely, it is always best to do some research. Both the state motor vehicle registry and local motorcycle schools' websites should provide the information necessary to understand all the steps involved in obtaining a motorcycle license.1: Get confident... and in turn, make riding a motorcycle more fun
A motorcycle safety course might actually be fun - after all, riding is supposed to be fun - but that is not the program's primary goal. According to testimonials on many schools' websites, new riders often describe the course as intense and rigorous. The results demonstrate that the intensity pays off. Generally, schools estimate that about 80 to 90 percent of students pass the beginner course on the first attempt.
Though a motorcycle safety course teaches skills in a highly controlled environment, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation says that the techniques are applicable to any situation. Even though the offerings of a school's beginner fleet might not satisfy the dreams of future cruising, learning on smaller motorcycles still provides the techniques to master a bigger bike, according to the MSF. That confidence will pay dividends in the end, because well-trained new riders will be less distracted and more able to concentrate on developing those skills and techniques.
So, which sounds more appealing for a first solo cruise? The thrill of flying blind brings with it unnecessary and extreme recklessness. Venturing out, with the assurance gained only from being taught and observed by qualified instructors, will allow a new rider to enjoy more pleasures of the experience of riding.