Is the Military Dying on Motorcycles?

Citing a study that the motorcycle accident death rate has doubled during the last few years for various branches of the military, CNN reported that troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been returning home to die in motorcycle accidents.  CNN reported that this is double the combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CNN reports that some psychiatrists said the Superman complex is to blame.  After returning home from war, troops believe nothing can happen to them and engage in risky activities.  The CNN report made it sound like motorcycles are so risky that they are responsible for killing more people than in war.

CNN interviewed Navy psychiatrist Lieutenant Commander Leigh Bishop who said that he was not greatly surprised and that “Psychiatrists and mental health providers certainly are aware of some of the emotions and mental attitudes in our returning service members that can lead to seeking thrilling or exciting behaviors that may be risky.”

CNN showed a video of a motorcycle training class provided by one of the branches of the military indicating that the military is now providing motorcycle training to stem further motorcycle injuries.  Lt. Cmdr. Bishop said that they are taught how to deal with the handling characteristics of the motorcycles that they’re riding, being aware of their mental state and attitude, and not to drive when under stress or have been drinking.

CNN Anchor Kyra Phillips ended the report with a final question for US Navy Petty Officer Aaron Richards, who was also being interviewed, “Final thought, Aaron, when you get on the bike, what goes through your head since you’ve had the training, and you’ve watched your buddies die and just even this conversation, what’s going through your mind when you get on that bike?”

While the theme of the CNN report seemed to be about the emotions of returning troops causing them to engage in risky activities, the report made riding all motorcycles sound like a death wish.  But, barely heard in the interview was one sentence by Lt. Cmdr. Bishop who said: “One of the things that we know is that 88 percent of the accidents that have happened have happened on sports bikes, which handle differently than cruisers.”

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