MSF & VTTI Partner on Long-Term Motorcycle Safety Study

MSF & VTTI Partner on Long-Term Motorcycle Safety Study

MSF & VTTI Partner on Long-Term Motorcycle Safety Study

MSF Long-Term Motorcycle Safety Study

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and its members have partnered with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) on the world’s first large-scale, naturalistic motorcycle riding study.

The 3.5-year motorcycle safety study began by collecting data from instruments installed on 100 motorcycles owned by study participants as the bikes were ridden in normal day-to-day use.

Sensors and video cameras recorded all motorcycle operator inputs such as steering, acceleration, braking and lean, as well as recording all motions of the motorcycle, current riding conditions and the actions of surrounding traffic.

The motorcycle instrumentation was designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, so that participant-riders would forget their rides were being monitored.

The MSF 100 Study tracked participants in Virginia, California, Florida and Arizona, and is expected to be a source of data and insight on a wide range of questions for an international array of safety professionals generally, but riders and rider safety professionals specifically.

All 100 riders on their equipped motorcycles have completed the data acquisition phase of the study, and the analysis phase is now yielding preliminary results.  The early data is already being put to use in a variety of applications, for example:

  • Early MSF 100 study results of temperature and precipitation data and their effect on motorcycle riding will be reviewed at the International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society slated to take place in Chicago on October 27 – 31.
  • Earlier this year, a presentation of preliminary mileage and riding frequency-based results was made at the 2014 Transportation Research Board Annual Conference in Washington D.C., and a paper titled, “An Exploratory Analysis of Motorcyclist Apparel Using Naturalistic Riding Data” was delivered at the 2013 International Motorcycle Safety Conference in Orlando, FL in October.
  • Preliminary results are being shared at various transportation safety venues, including the upcoming 10th International ifz-MSF Motorcycle Safety Conference, sponsored by the MSF and Germany’s Institute for Motorcycle Safety (ifz), in Cologne, Germany, on September 29 and 30.

As reports are finalized, additional outlets for communicating findings will be identified. Additionally, stakeholders, including other motorcyclist and traffic safety organizations, are considering grants and projects to fund analyses beyond the ten for which MSF has already budgeted.

“The MSF 100 study is being conducted to support motorcycle safety research, with particular emphasis on results that offer ongoing guidance in rider training,” said MSF’s Director of Quality Assurance and Research, Dr. Sherry Williams. “The study utilizes a naturalistic methodology that provided researchers with information captured by instruments installed on one-hundred motorcycles ridden for a combined nine-thousand-plus hours by real riders in real riding conditions.”

“The MSF is grateful for the investments made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and VTTI in conducting the Feasibility Study* that made our study possible,” said MSF President Tim Buche. “The strong, collaborative relationships that MSF shares with organizations like NHTSA and VTTI result in real safety solutions that benefit motorcyclists and all roadway users.”

“The contribution of the MSF 100 study is the key-on to key-off, 360 degree description of motorcycle riders, their surroundings, their capabilities and their needs, using the most recent research methods,” said Shane McLaughlin, VTTI’s research scientist / group leader – Motorcycle Research Group.

Specifics about The MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study

  • MSF and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute began discussion of this groundbreaking study in March of 2010. The MSF Board of Trustees commissioned VTTI to conduct this first, large-scale motorcyclist naturalistic study on March 31, 2010. Prior to that date, no similar study had ever been conducted on motorcycles.
  • MSF provided funding of $1,600,000, as well as support for the study in the form of products and services.
  • VTTI supported the development of the data acquisition systems, hardware, and sensors, at an estimated cost of $600,000.
  • The MSF 100 study utilized seven motorcycle models that encompassed touring, cruiser and sport-type motorcycles. These motorcycle types make up 85 percent of on-road motorcycles in use today.
  • In November of 2011, the first instrumented motorcycle launched the data-acquisition phase of the study in Virginia.
  • The remaining 99 motorcycles were instrumented for the study in Virginia, California, Florida and Arizona. The study’s use of four different geographic areas resulted in data collection from a variety of riding and weather conditions and roadway environments.
  • Depending on when participants entered the study, some motorcycles were tracked for as long as 2 years.
  • Approximately 38,581 trips were recorded. A “trip” begins when the motorcycle engine is started and ends when it is turned off.
  • Combined, these trips totaled approximately 9,478 hours of riding, with a total of 363,000 miles.
  • Participants in this study were recorded in over 42 states in the U.S. Riding was recorded day and night, in clear weather, rain, and snow. Temperatures ranged from 16 degrees F to 109 degrees F.
  • The study included frequent and infrequent riders. Frequent riders rode 145 days per year on average, while infrequent riders rode on average approximately 30 days per year. Participant ages ranged from 21 to 80. 78% of the participant riders were male and 22% were female.

The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, BRP, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Polaris Motorcycles, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. For safety information or to enroll in the RiderCourse nearest you,, or call (800) 446-9227.

*DOT HS 811 442: Pilot Study of Instrumentation to Collect Behavioral Data to Identify On-Road Rider Behaviors


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