In response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration release of the 2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment — Highlights, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has urged that a planned national Motorcycle Crash Causation study begin as soon as possible. Last summer the industry committed $2.8 million in funding through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to the Oklahoma Transportation Center for the new Motorcycle Crash Causation Study. The Motorcycle Industry Council committed another $200,000 soon after. The $3 million commitment compares to the approximately $2 million being provided in federal funding.
The Foundation stated that there is a tremendous amount of theory and speculation from many concerned parties for motorcycle safety as to why there has been an increase in motorcycle fatalities and crashes over the past 10 years. But there is no concrete data. MSF President Tim Buche reiterated that, "We hope that this new field research, the first definitive crash causation study to be done in the United States in almost 30 years, will shed new light on the causes of crashes on our nation's highways. Knowledge gained from this study may help all of us concerned with rider safety to develop even more effective countermeasures to enhance the safety of motorcyclists everywhere. But we won't know until the study, which will be a long and thorough process, has been conducted. For the safety of motorcyclists, we need this federal study to be of high priority, and move forward as soon as possible."
Fuel prices are prompting even more Americans to choose motorcycles for their transportation needs due to their higher fuel efficiency and lower cost of ownership. For first-time riders, an approved motorcycle rider training course is the best first ride, and training providers are responding to the sudden increase in demand by increasing their training capacity. This year, an estimated 430,000 people will take an MSF Rider Course. Visit www.msf-usa.org for more information.
The Foundation also is reminding all riders and motorists that they each have an important role in helping to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes on America's roads and highways.
"The overwhelming number of motorcyclists who wind up in single-vehicle crash statistics are there because they aren't following basic but important safety precautions when riding," said Buche. "And fewer than half of all riders have taken any kind of formal training course. We also know that car drivers and other motorists are at fault a majority of the time in multiple-vehicle crashes that involve a motorcyclist. We have lifesaving messages for everyone, whether they are behind the handlebars or behind a steering wheel."
For motorcyclists, the MSF has five critical messages:
Get Trained and Licensed —Take an MSF RiderCourse and obtain the appropriate rider's license from your state.
Wear Protective Riding Gear —All the gear all the time; most importantly a helmet made to meet the standards of the Department of Transportation.
Don't Drink and Ride —Ride unimpaired; never drink or use other drugs before getting on a motorcycle.
Ride Within Your Limits —Stay within your personal limits; never ride faster or farther than your abilities can handle.
Be a Lifelong Learner —Return regularly for refresher riding courses.
The Foundation's key messages for car drivers are:
Please Look for Motorcyclists —Use your eyes and mirrors to see what's around.
Focus on Driving —Hang up and drive, put down the food, the pet, the personal grooming gear, the CD, and the reading material and save it for later.
Use Your Turn Signals —Signal your intentions. It's also the law.
Give Two-Wheelers Some Room —Don't tailgate or get too close side-by-side.
Keep it in the Car —Don't throw trash and cigarettes out the window, and securely lash down cargo that can fall out on the road and be a deadly hazard.
"All of these are all doable, real-world actions that will cut down crashes and fatalities right now," Buche said. "Above everything else, it's about the human element, the attitude, the mind-set that motorcyclists and motorists have, and the choices they make out there on the road."