Ride another day: mitigating motorcycle risk in Navy

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jessica Craig (author), ABIS Thomas Sawtell (photographer)

Location(s): Eastern Creek, NSW

Topic(s): Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, Safety / WHS

Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Cryptologic Linguist Kate Johnstone stands by her motorcycle at the Australian Defence Force Motorcycle Rider Safety training program held at Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek, NSW. (photo: ABIS Thomas Sawtell)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Seaman Cryptologic Linguist Kate Johnstone stands by her motorcycle at the Australian Defence Force Motorcycle Rider Safety training program held at Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek, NSW.

Between 2006 and 2016, there were around 530 reported motorcycle vehicle accidents involving Australian Defence Force Personnel which resulted in minor to serious injuries. The statistics also recorded at least one fatality per year.

Since 2017, the Australian Defence Force has been delivering training designed to ensure Defence members who ride motorcycles live to ‘ride another day’.

Under Defence’s duty of care and as part of Work Health and Safety initiatives, a number of ships and establishments have been undertaking Defence-funded Motorcycle Rider Safety (RideSAFE) training courses which aim to improve rider awareness, attitudes, skills and competency.

Since the program’s establishment in August 2017 to December 2019, there were 1142 course completions across the ADF, of which 29% were Navy personnel.

RideSAFE Program Manager Lieutenant Colonel John Duff said the courses were beneficial for beginners and experienced riders alike, with the training aimed at addressing the main causes of motorcycle accidents.

“Motorcyclist fatalities are approximately thirty times the rate of car occupants and fifty percent are single vehicle crashes,” Lieutenant Colonel Duff said.

“530 reported motorcycle accidents involving Defence personnel are 530 too many!

“We can reduce fatalities and injuries to our people by encouraging all personnel who ride a motorcycle to take up this program and protect themselves, their family and their workmates from the tragedy that follows motorcycle accidents,” Lieutenant Colonel Duff said.

The RideSAFE program includes Level One (Beginners) and Level Two (Advanced) courses which are available in or near all State and Territory capitals and can be nominated through Campus.

According to the New South Wales Government’s Ride To Live website, the ways that riders can keep safe on roads include:

1. Braking

2. Road Conditions

3. Cornering

4. Lane Filtering

5. Pillion Passengers

6. Casualties

Seaman Cryptologic Linguist Kate Johnstone recently (prior to the recommendation of physical distancing provisions) organised a group of HMAS Kuttabul personnel to take part in a RideSAFE Level One course at Sydney Motorsport Park.

“As a relatively new rider, I’ve been looking for a way to improve my riding skills and confidence,” Seaman Johnstone said.

“I thought it would be beneficial for others to be able to gain the same experience, therefore I decided to organise a RideSAFE course for HMAS Kuttabul personnel,” she said.

Seaman Johnstone said the course was invaluable and encouraged others to take the opportunity to hone their riding skills, no matter what their level of experience.

“RideSAFE courses can be attended by anyone of any skill level and I would highly recommend this course to all motorbike riders,” Seaman Johnstone said.

“Not only was it enjoyable, but it gave me the opportunity to meet other personnel with the same passion for motorbike riding, learn many new skills and build confidence riding at higher road speeds while in a controlled training environment.”

To find out more about the RideSAFE Program, ADF members should visit PeopleConnect on the DRN and search for RideSAFE. Divisional staff and safety officers are encouraged to orchestrate courses with their teams which has proven effective.