May is recognized as motorcycle safety awareness month. Throughout the month, Coast Guard All Hands will share important information for Coast Guard men and women who ride, and for supervisors of those who ride. If you have questions or comments about anything, please comment below and we will get back to you with the appropriate answer. Thanks for reading and remember to Ride Safe!
Written by Dale A. Wisnieski
Peers often play a significant role in an individual’s decision to begin riding a motorcycle. Peer influences include the type of motorcycle to ride, whether to take training and what personal protective equipment to wear. While it is ultimately a rider’s decision and responsibility, peer influences cannot be ignored.
Peer influences are not always a bad thing. A peer who is willing to mentor can be one of the most influential ways to affect rider behavior.
What is a motorcycle mentor? A motorcycle mentor is an experienced rider who is committed to motorcycle safety and is willing to pass on their knowledge to less experience riders. Mentors assist in improving skills, maintenance of motorcycles and share a common appreciation of safe motorcycle riding. Mentors, when supported and encouraged by the command, can influence a safe riding culture in the organization.
While serving as the Coast Guard’s motorcycle safety program manager I have had the pleasure of meeting, training and sharing experiences with many Coast Guard riders. I know there are more of you out there. I am told that there are riders who want to get involved but are often bogged down by operational and family commitments.
Motorcycle mentoring does not and should not be a limited off-duty activity. Mentoring can be done while on duty. and it starts by knowing who the unit riders are. A simple conversation can factor in decisions inexperienced riders make the next time they ride. Taking an active role while on duty can be just as effective and is necessary if we want to reduce motorcycle related mishaps. Doing nothing is no longer an option.
Serving in the military is both challenging and rewarding. Coast Guard missions require members to take high levels of risk to ensure a successful mission. Regardless of the mission, everyone shares a common goal: to ensure all members go home to their families. We train and mentor our junior personnel to ensure that happens.
Operational mishaps happen and sometimes they result in fatal consequences. Motorcycle mishaps happen far more often and are the leading cause of fatalities amongst Coast Guard members. While we cannot ban members from riding, we can provide training and mentorship. If we can begin treating motorcycle riding similar to how we conduct our missions, we can change this culture.
If you’re an experience rider, be a mentor. The positive change starts with you.
The Defense Oversight Safety Council has developed 36 motorcycle mentorship modules to assist in your efforts. Each module provides discussion material for different motorcycle related topics. The modules are located on the Health, Safety, and Work Life’s motorcycle safety portal page.
Mentoring is the third piece that helps form a solid safety program.
Next week’s topic will focus on Accountability.
If you would like to get involved or need additional information on improving your unit’s motorcycle safety program, please contact, Dale A. Wisnieski via email or at 202-475-5206.