Prospective or intermediate-level motorcycle riders can save time and money by attending motorcycle safety courses offered in Dahlgren by Naval District Washington (NDW) as part of the Traffic Safety Program. The guidelines for the program, which are detailed in OPNAVINST 5100.12J, were recently revamped. Under the new system, motorcycle safety courses are organized into three levels. Completion of Levels I and II courses are mandatory for Sailors, while more advanced Level III training is highly recommended. The courses are not only intended to prepare students for state practical exams in Maryland and Virginia, but also to spread the gospel of safe and responsible riding.
In recent years, the Navy has expanded the courses available to motorcycle riders. Now, the Level I Basic Rider Course is offered for new riders to minimize any "intimidation factor" they might feel from proximity to more experienced riders. If the would-be motorcycle enthusiasts have not yet purchased a bike, the program offers loaners and safety gear for use in the course. "People usually don't even own a motorcycle at this point," said Dan Moore, regional lead instructor for the NDW Traffic Safety Program. "They want to figure out if they want to learn how to ride."
The first day of the Level I Basic Riders Course is devoted to book work. The second and third days focus on practical exercises culminating in an exam modeled after state exams. "We teach what people need to know in order to receive their state permit," said Moore. "We also teach what people need to know to go to their state DMV and take the parking test."
A two-day version of the Level I Basic Rider Course is available for riders who wish to bring their own motorcycle to class.
The Honda Safe Motorcycle Awareness and Recognition Trainer (SMART), a motorcycle riding simulator, is incorporated in the course so prospective riders can get a feel for road and bike before they actually hit the pavement.
"All Sailors who plan to purchase or operate a motorcycle, regardless of their intent to ride the motorcycle on or off base, shall complete Level I training prior to operating these vehicles," according to the new guidelines. Equivalent courses taught at local colleges costs new riders roughly $300, said Moore.
"The class leads to an evaluation that is identical to one offered in Virginia and Maryland that riders take to get their license," said Moore. "It's a win-win situation for riders."
Sailors are required to complete the next step of motorcycle safety training, Level II, within 60 days of completed Level I training. For sport bike riders, completion of the Military Sport Bike Riders Course (MSRC) or the Advanced Rider Course (ARC) meets the requirement. The latter course, along with the Basic Riders Course II, are approved Level II options for non-sport bike riders.
More advanced motorcycle training, such as that offered at the California Superbike School, the Marine Corps' Advanced Motorcycle Operator Course, Total Control and American Super Camp, is designated Level III training under the new program. Level III courses are not mandatory, but meet the three year re-certification requirement.
Classes in Dahlgren, which are supported by the NSASP Safety Office, are typically offered from April to November, but the schedule may be expanded or condensed based on weather.
"We try to maintain a waiting list less than 30 days," said Moore, who added that instructors try to squeeze in extra courses depending if the list gets too long.
While the Level I and II motorcycle safety courses are mandatory for Sailors who wish to ride, many federal employees are eligible to receive the training. The program gives priority to service members and Department of the Navy employees and their dependents, but is available to all Department of Defense employees on a first come, first served basis. Civilian motorcycle operators are not required to complete any Navy motorcycle safety training to ride onboard Navy installations, so long as they have the appropriate state motorcycle operator license.
To enroll in the one of the courses offered by the NDW Traffic Safety Program or learn more, visit www.navymotorcyclerider.com or call (540) 653-8684.