AMA praises launch of motorcycle crash study

A significant new motorcycle crash causation study will soon get under way at Oklahoma State University (OSU), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports. Formally announced by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on Oct. 5, the study will give motorcyclists and others concerned with highway safety a fuller picture of how motorcycles fit into today’s traffic mix, a better understanding of what causes motorcycle crashes, and insights into the best strategies to prevent these crashes.

"The announcement that the full study will now begin is great news," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "While the study will take years to complete, it promises to offer up information that will allow for the creation of effective countermeasures to make the roads safer for all of us."

The last major motorcycle crash study, called "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures," commonly known as the Hurt Report (named after lead researcher Harry Hurt), was published in 1981. It provided a wealth of data that has been used to develop training and strategies to help keep riders safer on the road. In the decades since, the traffic environment has changed enormously, prompting the AMA to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago.

"There is certainly a lot more traffic now than when Harry Hurt and his team did their research," Moreland said. "SUVs didn’t exist back then, and motorcycles have advanced light years in technology. On top of that, distracted driving poses a significant safety challenge. We will certainly learn a lot from this new study."

The FHWA is overseeing the OSU project, which will be administered at the Oklahoma Transportation Center, an independent and well-respected research facility in Stillwater. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a pilot study in the Southern California area to finalize the methodology for the comprehensive research study.

"OSU is delighted to be the lead research institution for this important study," said Dr. Alan Tree, associate dean for research in OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology. "We expect very significant, scientifically valid results to emerge from this work, and look forward to a very positive final outcome."

In 2005, Congress approved the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, and the legislation called for the study. Lawmakers pledged $2.8 million for the research, and asked the motorcycling community to match it.

"In 2007, the AMA committed $100,000, and AMA members contributed an additional $27,000 in our Fuel the Fund campaign," Moreland said. "Since then, six state safety programs have pledged another $560,000. We hope that others in the motorcycling community will join us in supporting the crash study."

The FHWA said researchers would evaluate data from hundreds of motorcycle crashes to help identify common factors, including road configurations, environmental conditions and rider experience. The study’s focus is to examine whether effectively implemented countermeasures might affect these factors and prevent motorcycle crashes or lessen the harm when they occur, officials said.

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