Ride safe: Mental motorcycling

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time for us to reflect on the proper procedures for our everyday riding, and to make a new pledge to ride safe. Stay tuned all month as we share crucial information, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.

Written by Dale Wisnieski

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Metcalf.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Metcalf.

Mishaps amongst Coast Guard riders have turned the corner and are heading in the right direction. The good news, not one member was involved in a fatal mishap in fiscal year 2015. Unfortunately we just lost a rider, the first fatal mishap since August 2014.

Coast Guard leadership is committed to providing riders with the proper tools to be a safe and responsible rider. Regardless of how long you have been riding or how much experience you have, every rider can learn something new. Take advantage of the tools provided.

Mental motorcycling – Being in the right state of mind

Coast Guard motorcycle safety messaging has focused on policy, training and mentorship. While those aspects of the program our important, I am going to kick off motorcycle safety awareness month with what has been referred to as “Mental Motorcycling.”

Career’s, relationships, finances and peer pressure have a way of creating stress in our lives. How we deal with those stressors can affect our mental state. As a motorcyclist, these everyday stressors can influence how we ride. Like cell phones, stress can be distracting and cause you to lose focus of what’s important, the ride.

What are some stressors in your life that should be factored in to your riding?

Riders will tell you that riding provides stress relief. There is some validity behind that thought. However, your mental state at the start of the ride could ultimately determine the outcome. Embarking on a ride after family dispute is different than riding to relax after a long week at work.

Amongst military riders, peer pressure adds an incredible amount of stress. Have you ever done something on your motorcycle because your friends were doing it, and you didn’t want to be left out? Don’t kid yourself; we all have done it. Riders have different levels of experience. Just because your friend can handle a corner at increased speeds, doesn’t mean you can.

One way to deal with peer pressure is to think about whom you ride with. Riders who have the same interests and skill level may provide a more enjoyable riding experience. Mentally prepare your ride regardless of the skill level of the riders in your group. Don’t over do it, and let riders know what level riding you are comfortable with. Conversation goes a long way in preventing mishaps.

Mental preparedness is as important as a well-maintained motorcycle, and good personal protective equipment. As a rider, you have to be alert and ready for just about anything. Not being mentally focused can be a recipe for disaster.

Before embark on your ride, t-clock your motorcycle, check your gear and ask yourself: am I mentally ready?

If you would like to get involved or need additional information on improving you unit’s motorcycle safety program, please contact Dale A. Wisnieski via email or at 202-475-5206.

Ride Safe!