Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander, speaks to Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians during a motorcycle mentorship discussion Aug. 6 in the Post Theater (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons)

By Mary Reardon, Fort Jackson Safety Office

Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander, hosted a motorcycle safety call at the Post Theater Aug. 6 for 136 motorcyclists and command teams.

An avid motorcycle rider himself, Michaelis encouraged all to support the Fort Jackson Motorcycle Mentor Program. The MMP operates at the post, brigade, and battalion levels to promote safe, responsible riding and camaraderie.

The statistics behind motorcycle safety is staggering as nearly 67% of the Army’s fatalities in fiscal year 2021 involve privately owned vehicles. Of these, nearly 49% of these fatalities involve motorcyclists. Off-duty motorcycle deaths have increased 38% and on duty-deaths have increased 100%. Close encounters and injuries occur too frequently as well. In the past year, five Fort Jackson military cadre have been seriously injured while operating their motorcycles; of which, two cadre have been injured in the past two weeks.

Motorcyclists rely on training, experience, and situational awareness. Operators are very vulnerable to the elements, road hazards, and inattentive drivers. Motorcyclists need to be fully engaged to anticipate hazards and react promptly.

The post motorcycle mentor, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hartz from 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment spoke during the event about how to ride safely.

Among these tips were to make the rider visible as possible including wearing the proper personal protective equipment and using their headlight.

“I ride during the day with my high beams on,” Hartz said. “Why? Because it’s bright. Anything I can do to make myself more visible to the traffic.”

He also cautioned riders to pay attention to their speed because it takes roughly 1.5 feet per mile and hour to stop. “That equates to a stopping distance at 30 miles per hour of 75 feet or three car lengths,” he said. “By the time we get up to 70 miles an hour, that’s 24 car lengths you will need to stop.”


All military cadre are required to attend the three-day Basic Riders Course before operating a motorcycle, all-terrain-vehicle, or MOPED. This includes three-wheeled motorcycles, commonly referred to as “Slingshots” or “Trikes,” which are regarded as motorcycles.

The Fort Jackson Safety Office provides the training and trainer motorcycles for free. The intent is to train cadre to safely operate the motorcycle and enhance situational awareness. The contracted training instructor, Rick Williams, has been recognized for his superior technical competence, humor, and patience.

This is not the only training required.

No earlier than 90 days/no less than 365 days after BRC, motorcyclists must attend progressive training. Two one-day options are provided, tailored to the type of motorcycle the cadre member operates. The student will bring their personally-owned motorcycle to class. The Enhanced Riders Course is tailored to “cruisers” wherein the operator is seated upright, on motorcycles such as a Harley Davidson. The Military Sport Bike Course is tailored to sport bikes wherein the operator leans forward on the gas tank. Motorcyclists need to complete progressive training to refresh their skills every five years or if deployed 180 days or more.

Hartz, will host the next meeting for the Brigade and Battalion Motorcycle Mentors on Sept. 1 from 4-4:30 p.m. in the Post Conference Room.

Active-duty military cadre can register for the BRC, ERC, and MSBC classes via the following hyperlink, https://imc.army.mil/airs

Select Region: Southeast, Garrison: Fort Jackson, and Course: (as appropriate). Click on the calendar for the course you wish to attend, complete the registration form, and submit. Students must be dressed appropriately for class: Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet with face-shield or ANSI goggles, full fingered gloves, long pants, over-the-ankle leather footwear, and long-sleeved shirt or jacket.