Tuesday, August 02, 2005


U.S. government to fund first major motorcycle crash study since Hurt Report, and not much will have changed

According to this article at roadracingworld.com, President Bush will soon be signing legislation that allocates some $3 million to Oklahoma State University for the purpose of conducting a long-term motorcycle crash study. This will be the first comprehensive study on the subject since the release of the Hurt Report about 25 years ago.

I'm not necessarily against this new study (although it does seem characteristic of the Bush Administration's pork barrel spending philosophy), but I wouldn't get my hopes up that the causal data will be significantly different than it was a quarter-century ago. As an MSF instructor and otherwise avid motorcyclist, I can tell you that modern motorcycle crashes are generally being caused by the same factors as those of the late 1970s. Motorcyclists are still largely untrained in the physical processes and mental strategies needed to be successful while riding. They can't brake, swerve, or countersteer. They still aren't wearing proper safety gear. They still have inadequate command over the counterintuitive skills needed to ride a motorcycle. In addition, recently released data in Texas shows that alcohol remains a contributing factor in almost half of all motorcycle crashes, just as it was in the days of disco.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. But with the popularity of motorcycling at a 25-year high, it should come as no surprise that a new study is being funded. After all, with increased popularity arguably comes increased accidents, and that's when government safetycrats historically rear their heads.

In the meantime, let's hope our three million bucks goes to good use, producing a study as comprehensive and accurate as Dr. Hurt's.


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