More U.S. troops in South Korea riding motorcycles
August 26, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Motorcycle use among U.S. Forces Korea troops and civilians is on a roll and could accelerate with new regulations that allow more people to obtain licenses, safety officials said Friday.
Several bases have responded by adding certification classes, mandatory for anyone riding a motorcycle or scooter.
Even with the expanded schedule, there is still a waiting list for the courses, said Scott Steuerwald, lead instructor for Cape Fox Professional Services, which contracts with the Army in South Korea and other countries.
"In the past, we’ve been scheduling two weeks out," Steuerwald said. "Now, we’re a month out."
Camp Mobile in U.S Army Garrison-Red Cloud, also known as Area I, used to offer the course twice a year.
But demand has risen so sharply that the class will now be offered monthly, said Area I safety officer Brian Tarrance at a recent Camp Casey town hall meeting.
Steuerwald said there are more than 1,000 motorcyclists within USFK.
USFK commander Gen. Walter Sharp’s order allowing nearly all servicemembers to obtain a driver’s license, which took effect Aug. 15, likely will push that number higher.
Steuerwald and instructor Judy Kim travel throughout the peninsula offering basic- and experienced-rider courses, though they mainly teach at camps Mobile, Humphreys and Carroll and at Yongsan Garrison.
The basic-rider course takes two days and covers both technique and assessing risk when driving in an unfamiliar place.
Beginners must complete a written test and a four-part road test that measures such skills as braking, swerving and cornering.
The six-hour experienced-rider course includes a traction drill and covers safety rules and regulations in South Korea.
Motorcycles and helmets are provided for beginners, but experienced riders must bring their own.
Anyone riding only a scooter will be given a separate scooter certification.
Both courses concentrate on assessing risk and observing road customs in a foreign country. For example, sewer grates and subway plates in South Korea tend to be slippery even when they’re dry, Steuerwald said.
Also, taxis may cut across three lanes of traffic to pick up someone, Steuerwald said.
"Once you’re aware of that happening, you’re looking out for that person on the road flagging a taxi down," he said.