Mentorship program provides support for new motorcycle riders

By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /

“The biggest fatalities Army Soldiers experience, statistically, are from privately owned vehicles or motorcycle accidents. It is important to be knowledgeable on motorcycle handling and management,” said Jill Carlson, Maneuver Center of Excellence safety director.

The Fort Benning Motorcycle Mentorship Program features a yearlong curriculum that educates and mentors Soldiers about motorcycle safety, riding and management.

“The Motorcycle Mentorship Program is all about mitigating risks on the road while on a motorcycle and supplying a mentor to help guide lesser skilled riders in motorcycle safety,” said Carlson.

“It is required for each battalion to have a motorcycle mentor. The mentor decides when to meet, where to meet and what they’ll be doing. The program is commander directed and unit ran.”

According to Carlson, if a person is interested in joining the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, but doesn’t have a bike, the mentor will help the future member pick out the right one for them. Mentors also help riders take care of their bikes and look out for one another.

“Mentors have many responsibilities delegated to them. They keep copies of riders drivers licenses and do inspections of their bikes.”

The MMP provides riders with collaborative training in the form of group rides. Mentors will show newer riders how to ride in formation and discuss possible safety issues one might encounter.

“It’s not as big of a hassle as people think to get everything they need to be educated on the road,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Tjarks, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, and battalion mentor for the MMP. “The MMP helps ensure that every motorcycle rider is educated on how to stay safe on a motorcycle. The program can save lives.”

Motorcycle safety should be taken seriously, according to Carlson.

According to Shawn King, contracting officer representative for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Program, all active duty Soldiers must complete the basic riding course and advanced riding course to become a member of the MMP. These courses are required by Fort Benning in order to ride motorcycles on the installation.

Carlson said a MCoE regulation requires motorcycle riders to complete the advanced riding course every three years.

“Riders will also need to have their own Department of Transportation approved equipment. Helmets, face shields, leather palm gloves, long sleeves and long pants are all required to ride,” added Carlson.

“Besides that, any Soldier from any unit can be part of the MMP as long as they have completed their training courses required by Fort Benning.”

There are mandatory requirements for mentors that must also be completed.

“In order to be a mentor, a person needs to complete the basic rider course, the advanced rider course and have at least 10 years of experience riding,” said Carlson.

“Any program that promotes risk mitigation or mentorship of a younger person is worth the effort,” she said. At Fort Benning, we have a lot of seasoned cadre who can pass down their knowledge to younger inexperienced riders and make them safer on the roads. If everyone is safer on the roads then that equals less fatalities for Army service members.”

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