In an effort to enforce regulations concerning Fort Bragg motorcycle rider safety, the Fort Bragg military police have begun random compliance checks for motorcyclists, who travel throughout the post.
During the first of these inspections, which took place on Aug. 2 during the morning commute, Fort Bragg MPs inspected a total of 132 motorcycle riders. Of those inspected, 20 citations were issued for various offenses, ranging from protective posture and equipment violations to insurance and registration violations. Three motorcycles were also towed during the inspections.
According to Col. Chad McRee, Fort Bragg’s director of Emergency Services and commander of the 16th MP Brigade, the motorcycle-specific compliance checks were initiated after Army safety reports revealed an increase in violations that involved motorcyclists.
“We started to see an increase of moving violations with motorcycles across the Army and there has been a heightened concern over traffic accidents involving motorcycles,” McRee said. “Certainly we know that the trends go up when Soldiers are redeploying as there’s a tendency for a lot more Soldiers to go out and purchase motorcycles. So we’ve got to continue to re-emphasize the requirements to operate a motorcycle on the installation and we hope that, by reinforcing these imperatives, our Soldiers will take those same requirements that they have on post and apply them when they ride off post.”
Rich Eppler, Fort Bragg’s installation safety manager, said many of those violations included Soldiers wearing novelty helmets, for which they bought a Department of Transportation approval sticker, in an attempt to pass it as an approved item.
“The way you check the DOT helmet for compliance is that it has to meet certain requirements set forth by the federal motor vehicle standards,” Eppler said. “There’s a little label on the inside of each helmet and it provides certain information to ensure that it is DOT approved.”
Eppler said a safe bet is to buy your helmet from a motorcycle dealer, most of whom are required to carry DOT approved helmets.
“The biggest thing that you’re going to notice in a non DOT-approved helmet is the thickness of the inner liner. It needs to be a minimum of at least one inch of foam on the inside of the helmet,” he said.
Eppler said another hazardous trend involves the use of the quick release chinstraps that are becoming popular among riders.
“These little clips will easily come loose from the force of an impact,” Eppler said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that it doesn’t take a lot of G force to snap that plastic.”
Eppler said DOT approved helmets feature a heavy-duty strap that resembles a D-ring type configuration, into which the straps are inserted and cinched down to keep the helmet in place.
The compliance checks last month were set up at the Knox, All American, Randolph and Longstreet access control points, but McRee said this will not be the last time MPs will check for motorcycle safety and compliance.
“We do compliance checks where we will pull a car or a motorcycle into the compliance inspection lane and check them for registration, licensing, training and all of those types of things. So this one was not overly unique. But considering the fact that we were focused on motorcycles, hopefully we’ll send a message that we’re very serious about Soldiers doing the right thing when they’re in possession of a motorcycle.”
(Editor’s note: This is Part I of a two part series on motorcycle safety.)