FY19 PMV-2 PLR Analysis
D Company, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment Motorcycle Mentor
Shell Army Airfield
Fort Rucker, Alabama
During fiscal year 2019, the Army lost 27 Soldiers to PMV-2 (motorcycle-related) mishaps. From the 13 PMV-2 preliminary loss reports (PLRs) published last year by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, one can clearly glean the common fatal threads that led to the loss of these great Americans. I will attempted to capture those threads here.
There were no surprises in those PLRs; the causation factors and statistical needle has not moved much — if at all — over the last several years. Occasionally, there will be a statistical anomaly — a Soldier who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the disciplined Soldier who was doing everything right to the best of his ability but still lost his life. (I say “his” because all of the PMV-2 fatalities in FY19 were male.) But the good news, if there can be good news, is these incidents are rare. The majority of the fatalities have clear indicators of the rider’s impending appointment with the Grim Reaper. If we study these mishaps, avoid making the same mistakes and modify our behaviors on our bikes, we can avoid the dire consequences.
The overwhelming majority of the PMV-2 fatalities in FY19 were the result of single-vehicle accidents. That means the other guy, that distracted “cage” driver, was not at fault. These mishaps often have a script that goes something like this: A rider was traveling at a high rate of speed on his sport bike, rode into a curve too fast, lost control, departed the road and struck a solid, unmovable object. Don’t be this guy. Training and discipline — and to a certain extent, integrity (obeying the law when no one is looking) — can fix this. These character attributes can be nurtured by Army leadership off the bike. Army leaders at all levels, stay engaged with your Soldiers. You will save their lives.
The following are some do’s and don’ts I have compiled after reviewing those 13 FY19 PLRs:
- Get trained and stay trained. Training does not equal proficiency. Treat motorcycle riding like flying a helicopter.
- Purchase safe riding gear.
- Invest in safety technology for your bike (things have changed since 1972).
- Evaluate the riding environment before, during and after the ride, including the weather, traffic, road conditions and time of day. Make the decision not to ride before you get on the bike, not miles down the road. It’s better to be off the bike wishing you were riding than on the bike wishing you weren’t.
- Stay mentally and physically healthy.
- Get the appropriate amount of sleep and maintain proper nutrition and hydration levels.
- Inspect your bike periodically.
- Examine (look at) your tires literally every time you get on and off the bike.
- Invest in tracking technology like an Apple Watch, iPhone, etc., and use a significant other, spouse, family member or friend to track your ride. Let them know when you are getting on the bike and where you are going. We do this every time we fly. Why not apply the same technology and methodology into something statistically more dangerous, like riding bikes?
- Wear high-visibility gear as much as possible. Look like a geek for your family’s sake. They will appreciate you being around even if you don’t look cool.
- Drink and ride! No amount of alcohol and riding is acceptable. Just don’t do it, period.
- Ride without training.
- Ride without a helmet — even in states where it is legal to be stupid, like Florida.
- Ride two-up if you aren’t prepared or trained to do so.
- Ride in groups that are clearly undisciplined and breaking the law. They won’t come to your funeral; your family will.
- Ride in the dark, during periods of high deer activity or when there is limited visibility. Rain (heavy rain especially) can seriously factor into a bad riding day, and not just because you’re wet.
- Let your riding behavior write checks your skills can’t cash. You are not a professional motorcycle racer. Even they do not race on public roads.
- Do something risky or stupid.
- Cave in to peer pressure. Be your own man or woman. Ride your ride.
To summarize, if you are a 21-year-old male riding a sport bike with no formal training or safety gear, traveling 100 mph in a curve on a heavily trafficked public road on bald tires while drunk at midnight, you probably didn’t get this memo. Any questions, comments or discussions regarding motorcycle safety and analysis, feel free to contact me any time at email@example.com.