Motorcycle Safety Month: Accountability, It’s everyone’s responsibility

Serving in the military is both challenging and rewarding. From the Commandant to the newest recruit, each member is challenged to become proficient at their craft and is handed a level of responsibility.

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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

Serving in the military is both challenging and rewarding. From the Commandant to the newest recruit, each member is challenged to become proficient at their craft and is handed a level of responsibility.

And with that responsibility comes accountability.

Life is a challenge and we have many responsibilities in which we are held accountable. Failing to conduct proper maintenance on an aircraft or boat may lead to a costly mishap. You could be held responsible if the investigation determines you failed to perform your duties. Failing to pay your creditors may result in your paycheck being garnished or your property being repossessed. The decisions we make lead to our successes and failures.

We often relate accountability to our careers and family decisions. Rarely do we think about being held accountable for our participation in off-duty recreational activities.

When it comes to motorcycling, Coast Guard riders believe they are treated differently, and in some ways they are. Motorcycling is a risky activity that continues to be the number one killer of Coast Guard members. Policies are created to support not deter riding. Policies should be viewed as a mechanism to be a safer rider. Polices that include training, personal protective equipment use and mentoring are all positive aspects of riding. Riders must abide by the policy and be held accountable if they do not.

I have had riders tell me, “It’s my life and I am only hurting myself.”

What we fail to realize is that our decisions do affect others. Your colleagues count on your knowledge and skills, and your family counts on your support. Bad decisions such as failing to wear a helmet or drinking alcohol while riding can have fatal consequences. Think about those who would be affected in your absence. Making good decisions increases your chances of making it home to the ones that care.

First and for most, riders must start by holding themselves accountable. Not just to policy, but to your family, and your unit and most importantly yourself.

Take a look in the mirror and ask, “What are the consequences for disregarding policy? What will happen to my family if I do not come home? What type of example am I setting to other riders?”

Self induced reality checks are often the first step to changing bad behaviors and habits.

While accountability starts with the individual, Coast Guard members cannot forget their responsibilities as leaders. Serving in the military is 24-hour responsibility. It’s never easy to step in and stop a member that you observe disregarding policy, or breaking laws such as racing or performing stunts on a public highway. With that said, it’s never easy to attend the funeral of a friend or member that you could have helped. While there is a rank structure, every member can intervene when necessary. Intervention may just save a life.

Accountability not only supports a solid safety program, it begins the process of changing the behaviors that lead motorcycle related mishaps.

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.

Ride Safe!


1 comments on “Motorcycle Safety Month: Accountability, It’s everyone’s responsibility”

  1. I am here today as a recreational boater on some documentation related business. I am saddened and surprised to learn that motorcycles are the number one killer of Coast Guard people. It certainly does not have to be so.

    I just took a moment to determine that I have been riding for over 50 years. This journey began with a two wheeled mini-bike cobbled together from an old lawn mower. I have had a concussion and some scrapes and bruises but have never broken a bone.

    I was fortunate in that much of my early riding took place off-road. I progressed to an 80CC “real motorcycle” and so forth. I believe that it is this progressive accumulation of experience that saved me.

    For several years I commuted, without incident, on the surface streets and freeways of Los Angeles. It’s difficult for me to imagine a new rider leaving the shop on a new Harley or sport bike and immediately riding the surface streets. Part of learning to ride is learning how to take a spill correctly. How are you going to do that on the streets?

    I was also fortunate in that I learned to ride intoxicated in an off-road situation. Actually what I learned, immediately, is that it is not possible to ride effectively while intoxicated. Concussion. Don’t do it.

    It is vitally important that you set the example, have the courage of your convictions, when presenting the message against BUI. They will know.

    One must be fully conscious, super conscious, when riding. You must take the position, despite all of your flash and noise, that no one sees you. Therefore your survival is entirely dependent on your constant avoidance of each and every threat.

    Automobile drivers have a way of muddling through, haphazardly working together, to reduce accidents. Bikes are absolutely NOT participants in this equation/game. Don’t trust anyone in a car. None are trustworthy, ever. Determine and steer your own course at all times. There is no break time for tuning the radio or texting, or even an idle thought.

    There is no doubt that motorcycling is fun but to remain so safety must come first. So,

    1 -Don’t drink and ride.

    2 -Take the necessary time to earn a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. It’s a simple but surprisingly effective step.

    3 -Wear a full face helmet, gloves, boots, and adequate clothing. Besides being useful in an accident these all help to reduce fatigue. The new full-face flip-up helmets moot the argument about helmets. They offer the best of both worlds. Love it.

    I wish you all many decades of safe and pleasurable riding. We need more riders not less.

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