Photo Information

Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 Marines depart from the station theater aboard Cherry Point during the start of the unit’s quarterly motorcycle ride promoting rider safety March 22.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

Rider skills help save lives

16 May 2013 | Lance Cpl. Andrea Cleopatra Dickerson

As gas prices increase and temperatures rise, Marines are hitting the streets on their motorcycles. Steven Lawson, Cherry Point’s traffic safety specialist and motorcycle instructor, stresses the importance of motorcycle training and safety.

“We’ve lost more Marines to motorcycle fatalities than we did in Iraq,” he said.

Motorcycle riders across the air station are mandated to be enrolled in or complete the Basic Rider Course before purchasing a motorcycle and complete the Advanced Rider Course within 120 days after completing the basic course.

The two-day basic course gives riders 15 hours of hands on time with their bikes while practicing maneuvers such as braking, cornering and swerving. The advanced course offers students approximately three hours of classroom instruction and five to six hours of riding time.

“Since 2008 when we implemented these courses, the percentage of fatalities declined drastically,” Lawson said.

Every three years, riders must take a refresher course to keep their riding privileges. They have the option to attend ARC again or go through training and instruction during Advanced Rider Track Days. The one-day advanced program focuses on speed and directional challenges, throttle control and lean angle control. The purpose is to increase the awareness, confidence and abilities of riders while honing their skills, said Lawson.

Another great way to promote motorcycle safety is being active in unit motorcycle clubs, Lawson said.

“Each unit goes on rides either annually or quarterly,” he said. “Those rides are a great idea because there are riders from all skill levels participating. It’s positive peer pressure. If more experienced riders see the less experienced riders doing something the wrong way, they can coach them and show them how it should be done.”

Mike Granger, the traffic safety manager for Cherry Point, stressed how important it is that each rider becomes a part of their unit’s club and attends monthly meetings.

Lawson, a former Marine, said he enjoys working with riders, and he takes his job as an instructor seriously.

“The best part of my job is knowing that the fatality rate is dropping,” he said.

Lawson recently won the coveted title of Cape Fox Motorcycle Instructor of the Year for 2013.

Granger, who works hand in hand with Lawson, said that his colleague is a phenomenal guy who is very proficient at his job, and he deserves all the accolades he has earned.

“It feels good to be instructor of the year,” said Lawson. “There is no better feeling than when my students come back and thank me for what they learned from me. Sometimes what they learned helped them save their own life.”

For more information or to register for a course, call 466-2730.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point