Marines practice two-wheeled safety - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Marines practice two-wheeled safety

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

September 18, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More Marines died in motorcycle and car crashes since last October than killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's why the Commandant of the Marines Corps issued a directive increasing safety awareness for Marines riding motorcycles to try to slow down that number of Marine deaths.

WALB News Ten's Jim Wallace reports Albany's Marines are strictly enforcing those guidelines to protect their troops riding motorcycles.

 Gunnery Sergeant Leopoldo Nunez loves to ride his Honda 600, and is sure Marine Commandant General James Conway's motorcycle safety orders will save Marines lives.  "Oh, absolutely. I support it one hundred percent," Nunez said.

Motorcycles are Marines number one accidental killer. "We are losing a lot of Marines, senseless loss of life. We've had approximately 74 fatalities this year alone," Sergeant Major Scott Mykoo said.

Forty-six of the approximately 350 Marines at the Albany base now ride motorcycles, and with high gas prices they are sure more will start. But Marines have to follow several mandatory safety programs before they are permitted to ride a motorcycle on or off base, including registration, training, and counseling to make sure they know how to safely ride.

Marines must wear protective equipment on a bike.  "It is full finger gloves, helmet. It has to meet certain requirements from D.O.T. Together with reflective vest," Nunez said.

They also have to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and boots, and have to join the base Motorcycle Club to keep them thinking safety.

"Straight again from the Commandant of the Marine Corps," Mykoo said. "Our Marines, sailors, and our families are our most precious and valuable assets we have. That sums it up right there."

Officials say it's not just lower ranking Marines that are riding motorcycles. They are seeing an increasing number of higher ranking officers injured in crashes.

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