Why Navy Motorcycle Training Fails
We the Navy, train motorcyclists because we care about riders and would like to reduce accidents and fatalities. We must however, consider a few risks, which are often overlooked.
Popular motorcycling culture believes that with enough training you can be safe on a motorcycle.
If you had every ounce of training available for a motorcyclist, wore the very best equipment available, and did everything perfectly would you be safe? No, because there is substantial risk external to the rider. Realistically how often are riders doing everything perfectly?
What if Skill is not nearly as big of factor in accidents as assumed? The most skillful motorcyclists in the world crash more often and likely have higher fatality rate than the average motorcycle rider. Do instructors get into accidents at a lower rate than students? We probably don’t even track that, should we?
Experienced Riders in the Navy should take a refresher to keep their skills active.
An experienced rider learns more by riding in traffic than any course in a parking lot can teach. What are we teaching someone with 5-10 years experience, in a parking lot that they do not already know? Or that they didn’t learn the first time? Why should we waste our taxpayer money to continually retrain and subsidize the sport of motorcycling? When regardless of our efforts it will still be dangerous.
Beginner riders who attend the course should get their license when they complete the course.
This is so sad. In the state of California, which is much heralded as a model, a rider can get a license to ride a motorcycle with less difficulty than a license for a car. Why do Navy personnel fill the role of the DMV examiner, anyway? Isn’t it a conflict of interest that the same person who teaches you licenses you? If a rider had the skill they would have no trouble riding to the DMV and passing an impartial test. If you took civilian driver training could they waive your DMV test? No, why then can you take motorcycle training and a Navy instructor waive your State required motorcycle skills test?
The more motorcyclists trained and licensed by the Navy the less accidents and fatalities will occur.
By facilitating, that is making easy, this high-risk sport, the Navy encourages personnel to ride a motorcycle. The benefit of training is there are more motorcyclists and they think they are less at risk because they had training and were given their license. More motorcyclists mean more exposure to risk, more exposure means the fatality rate will continue to climb in relation to numbers of riders.
The best solution is to discourage motorcycle riding, the fewer navy motorcycle riders the fewer injuries and deaths resulting from this sport.
Additionally, we should collect, maintain, and publicize important Navy statistical data. Some numbers, which should always be available, include number of riders, number of instructors, number of Navy injuries, deaths, rates based on geography, number of years riding when accidents occur. Since we are not civilians and have no influence over them, NHTSA is not the best source of data for the Navy.
I foresee that this would be a challenge but instead of discounting the challenge because it will be difficult, use the money saved by not paying for repetitive training of experienced riders to hire some more statisticians.
Look, don’t take my word for it. Ask impartial risk management experts, not the safety experts. I make the distinction because I think it is critical to understand the difference. A safety expert’s role is to inform, and train personnel about how to be safe, if a safety expert were ever truly effective they would have worked themselves out of a job. A quality risk management expert accepts that safety is out of his control and focuses on strictly on controlling risk. We have a lot of safety experts who are into job security more that risk reduction.
I remain optimistic that we will overcome these cultural barriers to an effective rider-training program.