Experienced motorcycle riders share wisdom during safety stand-down
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Slick roads, narrow lanes and inclement weather conditions make driving on Okinawa roads hazardous. Knowing how to navigate safely is essential, especially for motorcycle riders.
The Installation Riders Club held a motorcycle safety stand-down April 18 at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Theater. This meeting reinforced the importance of safety precautions when riding a motorcycle.
The IRC is an organization that provides mentorship and safety courses for motorcycle riders. While it is a Marine Corps establishment, civilians and other service members are able to attend the meetings.
During the monthly meetings, mentors share experiences and discuss training and scenarios involving safe riding and maintaining their motorcycles.
The safety stand-downs are held semiannually on Okinawa. Motorcycle riders in the Marine Corps are required to attend at least one per year, according to Wendel Dunn, a civilian contractor and motorcycle safety instructor.
“The stand-downs are useful in bringing awareness about the hazards that exist on the road,” said Dunn. “We have classes that teach the basics of safety for new riders, as well as more advanced classes. These stand-downs are an opportunity for the riders to share experiences and learn from each other in a less formal setting than a classroom.”
Marines, civilians and other service members attended the event, where they watched videos of riding hazards on Okinawa and the effects of drugs and alcohol on a rider. A motorcycle simulator tested the skills of both beginner and experienced riders attending the course.
The safety stand-down is also a place where more experienced riders can pass along knowledge to riders who are either new to the island or to riding motorcycles, according to Maj. Daniel H. Groeling, a KC-130 pilot and fires officer with G-3, operations and training, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It’s important for the riders to share their knowledge with those coming to the island or decide to take up riding while they are out here,” said Groeling. “Having a place and time where the riders can come together and share any new knowledge on riding regulations and safety tips can help save lives.”
For new attendees, having the experienced riders there boosted their confidence and awareness of being on the road, according to Gunnery Sgt. Jason D. Shepperson, a utilities chief with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
“As a new motorcycle rider, I’m more conscious of dangers that come with riding,” said Shepperson. “This counts for being in a four-wheeled vehicle too. Now that I’ve been on a motorcycle, I’ll pay more attention to riders because I will have experienced what it’s like to be on the bike.”
After the stand-down ended, the attendees were confident in the effectiveness of the meeting, according to Groeling.
“Thanks to the information shared today, new riders have a little extra knowledge to use when they are riding,” said Groeling. “If that means even one life is saved, then this meeting was worth the time.”