Documentation Matters!

The benefits of documenting your motorcycle training are myriad & compelling

By David Kinaan  |   Dec 16, 2015
Photo Courtesy Georgetown (Texas) PD.

Motorcycle instructors and motorcycle officers look forward to motorcycle training days. The days are an opportunity for motorcycle operators to get together, disseminate information, discuss trends, review incidents, and work on skills, all designed to make the motorcycle officers better and safer while executing their duties. The more frequently the training days occur, the more the cumulative value of the training will be realized. Muscle memory and skills diminish over time. By isolating and working on these traits more frequently, theres less time for them to diminish and more opportunity for them to build.

This is true for almost any skill, but is especially important for motorcycle officers. Getting the opportunity to just ride the motorcycle, concentrating only on skills, can drive the thought of taking reports far from the operators mind. Yet: Documenting these events may be the best way to ensure they continue and can help when seeking to increase the frequency or length of the training days.

Write It Down

There is always the challenge to balance the need for training with the need to continue to provide adequate service to the public. The best way to accomplish both is to maximize the benefit of the training days and create the opportunity for individual operators to work on skills between training days.

Objective documentation for each operator at every motorcycle training day provides operators with the constructive criticism they can then use to work on improving their skills when they’re not training. This documentation provides operators with timely feedback on their performance they can work on. It also memorializes the training day, providing management with tangible evidence of the training events that occurred, which can then be used to satisfy administrators of the value of motorcycle training days. Not only that, but should you ever have to defend your training in court, you’ll have the documentation to demonstrate exactly what was covered.

The documentation should include an agenda for the day and an objective evaluation and/or rating sheet to provide feedback for each individual operator. The agenda should allow adequate time for the dissemination and discussion of information. The agenda will also establish a period of time to work on basic and advanced skills.

Many training days will begin with figure 8s, U-turns and/or column rides. The motorcycle training officers, or instructors, should position themselves in strategic locations to observe the operators as they participate in the events. The training will typically progress from cone patterns to brake-and-evade and then cone-weave exercises.

When beginning cone patterns, instructors may want to expand the patterns to ensure the operators will successfully negotiate each event. The instructors can then reduce the patterns to challenge the skills of the operators. Instructors should make objective observations to provide the operators with feedback, documenting both strengths and weaknesses in their skills.

Many training days will conclude with a skill development ride. These events allow operators to concentrate on maintaining high visual horizons, make appropriate surface appraisals, and decision making events, without the responsibility to monitor radio calls or seek out violators. Here again, instructors should position themselves in strategic locations along the route to observe the operators and provide documented feedback.

Training days that occur without documentation create additional burdens for all involved. Without an agenda the day can be sidetracked when one event runs long and infringes on the time for subsequent events, and an individual operator is not afforded the benefit of an objective evaluation to know their strengths and weakness.

Instructors may not be able to identify trends that could lead to deficiencies in a timely manner, losing the opportunity to correct behavior before bad habits have a chance to develop. A lack of documentation can also create a hardship for management and administration to realize and observe the benefits gained through these events. This in turn can lead to a lack of support for scheduling frequent motorcycle training days.

Reviewing documentation allows instructors to identify weaknesses in individual operators that may require remedial training. This is critical: Providing remedial training in a timely manner can quickly correct deficiencies before theres a catastrophic event. Objective documentation created over several motorcycle training days will provide a chronological history of training and remedial training. Then, if an operator is not able to bring their skills up to an acceptable level, the documentation exists should there be a need to remove an officer from motorcycle duty.

Agendas and objective documentation produced at motorcycle training days will enhance the skills and professionalism of a motorcycle unit. These documents can also serve to ensure the continued support of management and administration when the documentation provides records of the benefits and accomplishments achieved during the training days.

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David Kinaan

David Kinaan

Sgt. David Kinaan retired in 2012 as the supervisor of the CaliforniaHighway Patrol Academy's Motorcycle Training Unit. Kinaan was an active member of the CHP for 29 years and started riding enforcement motorcycles for the CHP in 1989. He served in the Central Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Westminster and North Sacramento Areas before coming to the Academy's Motorcycle Training Unit in 2008. Kinaan has published articles on motorcycle safety and motorcycle training in various public safety and civilian media outlets. He also consults with various entities throughout the nation, and provides expert witness testimony, on all matters related to motorcycle operations in enforcement and emergency services. Kinaan is currently a Quality Assurance Technician with Kawasaki Motors Corporation and is involved in the rework modification and testing of Kawasaki's ZG1400 Police Motorcycle.
David Kinaan

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