Motorcycle PPE: regulations and common sense demand it


Motorcycle PPE FAQ

“I’m in the Navy/Marines/Air Force (or family member or civilian), does this Army regulation really apply to me?”
YES. AE Regulation 190-1 is the governing regulation for all U.S. Army in Europe license holders.

“Why is the military making us wear so much stuff?”
-The Department of Defense and USAREUR requirements are actually based on recommendations by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, widely recognized as a source of best practices in motorcycle safety.

“I can just wear a road guard vest or PT jacket right?”
-NO. The USAREUR policy specifically states that orange mesh PT vests, and reflective PT jackets do not meet the upper garment requirement, however, solid material European highway safety vests do.

“Great, so now I have to buy a $300 jacket?”
-NO. Options that meet the standards start at around $12 at the Exchange. For around €70, riders can get purpose made motorcycle jackets that offer more protection in a crash.

“Can I wear my military boots for riding?”
-YES. Military approved boots meet the requirements for footwear, and usually meet all MSF recommendations as well.

“Can I ride to work in my ACUs (or service equivalent)?”
-YES. But a brightly colored upper garment (reflective at night), eye protection, gloves and helmet are required as well.

“And what if I don’t wear this stuff?”
-Violations can incur 3 points on your USAREUR license, as well as an immediate seven-day suspension of your license.

“Where can I find out more about these requirements and motorcycle safety?”
USAREUR regulation
Motorcycle Safety Foundation







By Greg Jones
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Motorcycle Personal Protective Equipment includes gear that is meant to protect motorcycle riders and reduce the risk and the severity of injuries in case of an accident. While some of the gear is intended to protect the rider in an accident, much of it is also intended to help prevent the accident in the first place.

Not only is wearing the right PPE good common sense, it also is required by regulation. U.S. Army in Europe Regulation 190-1 is the governing regulation for all U.S. military forces in Europe on matters of vehicle licensing and traffic law. This regulation, in conjunction with the USAREUR commander’s policy letter dated June 27, 2013 comprise the policy for the operation of motorcycles by all USAREUR license holders and applies to active duty service members of all four services, Department of Defense civilian employees, and family members. Both the policy letter and the regulation are available online at

The following PPE is required:

Head: A helmet properly fastened under the chin. Helmets must meet the standards set by the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation Standards, the Institut für Zweiradsicherheit e.V. (Institute for Two-Wheel Safety), or the Economic Commission of Europe for bicycle helmets.

Eyes: Eye protection must meet the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission Regulation standards or the European equivalent. Eye protection must be impact- or shatter-resistant goggles or a full-face shield properly attached to the helmet. A windshield or eyeglasses alone are not proper eye protection.

Hands: Full-fingered gloves.

Upper Body: There are two requirements for the upper body. A high visibility bright fluorescent colored garment with reflective materials must be worn to meet visibility requirements. Long sleeves must be worn for protection. Riders may wear a jacket or other garment that is long-sleeved and made of bright fluorescent colors and reflective material, or may instead wear a bright fluorescent reflective vest over a long sleeve shirt or jacket. The European highway safety vest pictured below meets this requirement. For better protection, the MSF recommends sturdy jackets made of leather or reinforced materials. Operators in military uniform may wear bright fluorescent colored approved motorcycle riding jackets with their uniform. The brightly colored mesh vest commonly used for physical training does not meet this requirement, nor does the PT jacket.

Legs: Full-length trousers.

Feet: Over-the-ankle footwear should be made of sturdy leather and have a good oil-resistant sole to reduce slipping hazards. Service boots meet this requirement.

While these policies have been in effect for some time, a renewed emphasis on motorcycle safety has prompted much more stringent enforcement, including a policy of gate security personnel recording infractions and reporting them to the Military Police.

The penalty for failure to wear the proper PPE is the same violation as not wearing a seatbelt in an automobile, and carries a mandatory USAREUR license suspension of 7 days. The violator’s license will also be assessed three points.

The standards outlined in AER 190-1 are actually based primarily on a DOD instruction so they should not be very different than the guidelines in place with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Also, all of these organizations have based most of their motorcycle safety policy and education on practices and standards set forth by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

The PPE listed above protects the rider in two ways. It makes the rider less likely to be in an accident, and it helps reduce the severity of injuries in the case of an accident.

The orange mesh road-guard vest often worn during physical training, does not meet the standard for high visibility upper garment. But the solid, European highway safety vest does meet the standard, and can be purchased for less than $15.
The orange mesh road-guard vest often worn during physical training, does not meet the
standard for high visibility upper garment. But the solid, European highway safety vest does meet the standard, and can be purchased for less than $15.

Bright, fluorescent colored clothing makes the rider more visible, and being seen by motorists is the first step to a motorcyclist avoiding a collision. Also, gloves, eye protection, and sturdy boots can protect the rider from the elements, reducing distraction, fatigue, and the effects of inclement weather. A more focused rider is a safer rider, according to the MSF.

If an accident does occur, a proper helmet can often mean the difference between walking away and being carried away on a stretcher or worse. The MSF, and the USAREUR policy highly encourages sturdy clothing made of leather, or reinforced materials, or purpose-made motorcycle clothing. It protects the skin from abrasions, and can absorb impact, making broken bones and other internal injuries less likely, or less severe, according to the MSF.

Whether it keeps riders from being in an accident, or reduces their injuries, PPE is not only enforceable by military law; it also might just save the rider’s life.

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