Military concerned about motorcycle deaths

FORT BRAGG The effort follows the second death of a Fort Bragg soldier in just one week.

Edwin Ramos died at Wake Med in Raleigh over the weekend after crashing his bike on I-40 near the Clayton Bypass.

Across the nation, as troops come home from war, many with combat pay are putting down cash for fast and flashy sports bikes.

Fort Bragg solider Brandon Gilland says he bought his sports bike for the speed a year ago with combat pay from his deployment.

At Custom Chrome Cycles in Fayetteville, Tommy Smith says about 80 percent of his customers are military.

"They are looking for a good clean bike," Smith said. "Yeah, they have combat pay when they come in they are just looking for something to ... some good transportation."

According to national reports, in 2008 more service members died in off duty motorcycle crashes than ever before --126 from all four branches of service.

Military safety officials cited riding experience and speed as top factors in a majority of the crashes. The military is now taking steps to reduce those numbers.

Officials says about 4,000 motorcycles are registered at Fort Bragg. Before a motorcycle can be ridden on post, a spokesman says, the rider must first take and pass a two day safety course.

"They have both classroom instruction they take and they have to take a test as well as riding maneuvers they do on a motorcycle range they ride with their motorcycles," Fort Bragg Safety Manager Rich Eppler said.

In teaching safety, Eppler says the course also helps riders better understand the risk of the road.

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