A 21-year-old Private First Class assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, died 15 March 2023 in a PMV-2 mishap, at 2220 local. The Soldier was riding his motorcycle back to the barracks, when he was struck from the side by a car. He was transported to the local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The specific circumstances of the mishap sequence are unknown. The Soldier had completed all motorcycle training courses and was wearing personal protective equipment. It is also unknown if speed or alcohol was a factor. The local police report is pending.
Since FY18, the Army has lost an average of 24 Soldiers a year to PMV-2 mishaps. This mishap was the tenth PMV-2 fatality of FY23 and below the number of fatalities for the same time period last year.
1. Lights and action:
Dirt and bugs caked on the headlight can materially reduce how much light you have out front, so making sure all your bike’s lights are working, are properly aimed and have clean, intact lenses is critical.
Carry spare bulbs and the correct lighting circuit fuses in your pack—finding a place to get those items after hours can be tough, particularly out on rural rides. Consider upgrading the bulb in older bike lighting systems. Halogens, other bulb or even LED options may be available to upgrade from older style sealed beam or incandescent units and throw more light, depending on the make and year of your bike.
Check brake and turn signal lights to assure they are working properly, as well. Keeping the bike’s side-facing reflectors intact and visible is also important to being safe after dark. Reflective tape can be added to improve the visibility of the bike to other motorists.
2. See and be seen:
High visibility and light-colored riding gear can make the rider more visible to other riders and drivers. In low and fading light or foggy conditions, fluorescent colors seem to glow by absorbing short wavelength light not visible to the human eye and re-radiating it as long-wavelength light the human eye can see.
Jackets made with fluorescent colors in combination with retroreflective materials in logos, stripes or piping can make a rider highly visible at long range in another vehicle’s headlights. While you’re at it, don’t forget to gear up — boots, stout riding pants, gloves, jacket, helmet, eye protection, and maybe a little of the CE approved impact protection here and there, too.
3. Be visionary:
Those dark wrap-around sunglasses or that slick, but dark reflective helmet shield that work great at high noon can be potential contributors to disaster late in the day or after dark. Have a back-up plan for maximizing your vision with clear shatterproof riding glasses and/or clear helmet shield for the long ride home.
A photochromatic shield may also be an option. If you ride with a windshield and look through it instead of over it, keep that windshield clean, as well. Even a moderate sized bug splat on the windshield creates a view obstruction covering square feet of area down the road.
Any roadside hazard — like a deer, coyote, raccoon or dog poised to kiss your front tire — can be difficult to see in broad daylight; seeing them after dark requires giving yourself every advantage you can. Lots of wildlife becomes more active after dark, so seeing those critters at the roadside in time can make all the difference.
4. Lose speed, not control:
Highway speed driving with anything after dark is riskier than it is in the daylight hours, but on a motorcycle high speed alone can erase the positive safety effects of everything else you may do. The answer is simple; keep your travel speed down on the straights and even more so in the corners.
Stretch your following distances with other vehicles — the other drivers can’t see as well, either, so unexpected things looming in the headlights are more likely to cause them to panic stop. On roads that are unfamiliar this becomes a critical factor; an innocent decreasing radius corner that is simply fun to carve in daylight can fool you past the fog line and into the trees after dark.
5. Absolute sobriety:
Driving any motor vehicle with booze or any other intoxicants on board is inviting disaster; riding a motorcycle at night under those circumstances defies common sense. Yet, motorcycle crash data from here in Wisconsin proves it happens.