Responsibilities of Motorcycle Riders on Post

By Amaris Buser, Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office  

According to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, motorcycle accidents have emerged as a leading cause of death among service members within the Army, prompting Fort Bliss to take significant measures to address this issue.

To safeguard its personnel's well-being, Fort Bliss has implemented Standing Order 07, a comprehensive set of guidelines that applies to all individuals located on the Fort Bliss military reservation. The purpose of Standing Order 07 is to mitigate the risks associated with motorcycle accidents. It is important to understand that this order is punitive for service members, meaning non-compliance may result in adverse administrative actions and punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

For example, if a service member gets into an accident with their motorcycle, a Line of Duty investigation is conducted. If the LOD investigation reveals that there was a failure to comply with Standing Order 07 or finds that the service member motorcycle rider was at fault, the LOD investigation might conclude with a determination that the accident was "Not in the Line of Duty." Such a determination may seriously detrimentally affect any future benefits that would be normally provided to the service member or the service member’s family by the Government for the injury or death sustained in the accident.

To ensure compliance with Standing Order 07, personnel within the Fort Bliss community must fulfill all mandated requirements.

First, at all levels of command, the designation of a Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinator is imperative. These individuals oversee and enforce and implement Standing Order 07 at a unit level.

Second, all service members must wear proper Personal Protective Equipment when operating motorcycles on and off the Fort Bliss installation. It is important to note that civilian personnel also must adhere to the installation policy while on post. The complete specifications for the mandated PPE can be found in AR385-10.

Finally, service members must undergo a series of progressive motorcycle safety training courses, at no cost to themselves. These courses include the following: the Basic Rider's Course, Experienced Rider's Course, Military Sport Bike Rider's Course, Motorcycles Refresher Training, and Unit Check Riders. Completing these courses ensures riders have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate motorcycles safely.

In the event a service member operating a motorcycle is in an accident after completing the required training courses, commanders are obligated to conduct an after-action review within seven days. During this review process, operators involved in the accident are prohibited from utilizing motorcycles until the appropriate chain of command reviews the AAR. The purpose of the AAR is to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine if any remedial training is necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future regardless of who was at fault.

While complying with Fort Bliss regulations, motorcycle riders must also adhere to the applicable laws of Texas and New Mexico while on the military installation. Failure to comply with state laws may result in punitive action from law enforcement or the service member's chain of command. Violations can lead to administrative consequences, including the revocation or restriction of driving privileges for a set period. This will vary depending on the severity of the offense.

Standing Order 07 establishes clear guidelines for operating motorcycles within and outside of the military installation. By appointing Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinators, wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, and completing the required progressive motorcycle safety training, military personnel have the ability to operate their personal motorcycle while maintaining compliance with Fort Bliss policies and procedures.

If you have any further questions on motorcycle licensing as it relates to military service, please schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office by either calling (915) 568-7141 during office hours or emailing anytime.