Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Mounted Flag Policy....


We have debated for a long time the issue of flags being flown while motorcycles are moving. There is no question how beautiful they are as escorts come in with the flags mounted and waving in the wind.

That said… too often people have had to dodge them as they break off and our US Flag hits the ground and bikes run over it. I was on one run last year that as we pulled in I realized the passenger on the bike in front of me had been holding the flag pole the entire ride. We have the rubber band effect of group rides where the back bikes are running 50 mph or more trying to catch the group in front of them with flags poles looking like an ultralight fishing pole bent over.

We know that many members have some really well built mounting systems and we know that some are really suspect. We aren’t engineers or qualified to inspect these systems to say which are Ok and which aren’t. Even a good mounting system with a pole that has been subjected to miles of highway speed is a risky proposition.

Knowing how passionate people are about having flags flying we asked a group of Senior Ride Captains, Ride Captains, representatives of the Board of Directors, and specialists like insurance agents, attorneys, and safety instructors weigh on what our official policy should be. What was the most important factor is what we all believe to be a safe practice that still allows flying flags.

The below is our policy effective immediately. The policy really is nothing more than formalizing what our guidelines had been.

It is the policy of the MN Patriot Guard that flags larger than a 20" X 20" flag may not be flown from any vehicle (motorcycle, car, etc.) traveling at speeds of 35 miles per hour or more during any part of a mission including an organized ride to or from a mission. Anyone flying a flag from their vehicle at speeds less than 35 miles per hour is responsible to ensure that all flags, poles, mounts, and any other associated equipment are safe and securely attached to their vehicle. The ride leader is responsible to lead the ride in such a way that no vehicle following will exceed 35 miles per hour when flags have been allowed to fly. Any person asked not to fly a flag from their vehicle by the Ride Captain in Charge of a mission or event, or their designee, shall comply with the request or not participate in the mission or event.

This puts the burden of safe flag flying on the person who chooses to mount them on their motorcycle. There is no requirement to do so and we really do not encourage it. It is a personal choice each person makes to put them on his or her motorcycle. As long as the policy is followed any injuries or damage that result from something bad happening is not likely to be the liability of the Ride Captain In Charge or the Minnesota Patriot Guard. The liability will likely rest entirely with the rider who had a flag or mount come off in front of the following riders.

We can not declare any system safe because we aren’t trained to do so. We will inspect for those we don’t think are safe and might ask you to put away your flag if there is reason to believe there is an issue. We ask that you comply with that request and ask your understanding if you are asked to not participate in the mission should you refuse to put the flag away.

You might ask why create a policy when we had a guideline in place. Creating a formal policy helps creates some liability protection for our Ride Captains that didn’t exist before assuming they adhere to the policy put in place. They put in so much of their personal time and money that we felt it wasn’t fair they were exposed to as much liability as they were before.

I realize that any type of restriction may not sit well with some people. I hope that most of those who choose to fly flags understand that we haven’t restricted flying flags but put in some safety boundaries that help protect all of us.

Thanks for everything you do!