Story and photo by Sgt. Breanne Pye
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
As part of Fort Carson leadership’s continued effort to ensure motorcycle safety, nearly 400 Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, participated in motorcycle safety and refresher courses upon returning home from their 12-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Before Soldiers are allowed to ride their motorcycles, each rider is required to take the refresher course to sharpen riding skills and refresh knowledge of traffic laws and motorcycle safety.
“Raider” Brigade leaders made the refresher courses a top priority by offering four classes a week to accommodate the brigade’s large motorcycle-riding population, said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Parker, brigade motorcycle mentor, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Parker said the refresher course is a two-hour block of instruction that covers all the basics of safely navigating a motorcycle on the road, as well as traffic laws, hand signals and how to identify hazards on the road.
“As a fairly new rider, this class was a great opportunity to remind myself of the basics,” said Capt. Christopher Arne, brigade civil affairs operations officer, HHD, 1st STB. “We received a general overview of riding basics, as well as training on safety issues we might face when we get back on the road after being deployed for a year.”
The class is taught by experienced motorcycle mentors with years of riding experience, said Parker. A motorcycle mentor offers the younger, less experienced riders education and counseling in order to train them to become safer riders.
Although each rider has already attended Fort Carson’s Basic Rider Course, the refresher course is essential because after being deployed for a year, a Soldier’s riding skills get rusty, said Parker. Knowledge of traffic laws and regulations isn’t as clear as when the Soldier was on the road before deployment, riding every day.
“Any motorcycle rider can ride really fast in a straight line,” said Parker. “But where you show your true skills as a rider is when you are riding really slow and reacting to obstacles and drivers around you. Those skills are perishable and need to be practiced in order to keep them sharp.”
“Riding a motorcycle is so much different than driving a car,” said Arne. “There are so many variables and safety issues to take into consideration because you’re not in a car with a seatbelt on; you’re just sitting there on your bike.”
Because of the safety issues and variables, Parker said the Army has strict regulations on required personal protective gear, which Soldiers are reminded of when they attend the basic rider skills refresher course.
“It is very important for Soldiers to wear their personal protective gear while riding because the Army has invested a lot in each and every Soldier on the road and wants to ensure that each of them are safe when they get on their motorcycles to ride,” said Parker.
He said the required personal protective gear for every Soldier consists of over-the-ankle boots, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, full fingered gloves, a helmet, protective eye equipment and a retro-reflective vest.
“This training is a reminder to Soldiers that they are not immortal,” said Parker. “As a motorcycle rider, sooner or later, you are going to hit the pavement. The course is designed as a preventive measure to help Soldiers avoid getting in an accident and to minimize damage and injuries if they do.”