Need For Research
Research in Motorcycle
Information to Users
|There are varying levels of depth for motorcycle crash investigations.
The least detailed crash investigation is the retrospective extraction
of data from police reports. This process occurs after the fact
and simply selects available data from police investigation reports
that may be of interest in motorcycle safety: rider age, license
qualification, motorcycle size, insurance coverage, etc. Police
traffic collision reporting varies significantly between jurisdictions,
which is a formidable obstacle to meaningful state-to-state comparison
The most detailed level of investigation is the multidisciplinary,
on-scene, in-depth investigation (OSIDI) such as the 1981 study
of 900 motorcycle crashes entitled, Motorcycle Accident Cause
Factors and Identification of Countermeasures (Hurt Report).
This study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation,
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (DOT-NHTSA),
and conducted in Los Angeles by Harry Hurt of the University of
Southern California (USC). The Hurt Report has been used
both nationally and internationally as the best source of detailed
motorcycle crash data in the development of training, countermeasures,
and related questions. Such studies are rare, particularly for
the broad spectrum of injury levels possible in motorcycle crashes.
On-scene, in-depth investigation provides a level of detailed
crash analysis far more valuable than less comprehensive investigations.
The data variables that are collected are summarized in Appendix
Devising effective countermeasures requires comprehensive research
into current causes of motorcycle crashes and defining the motorcycle
population at risk.
Motorcycle crash investigations have been carried out not only in
the United States (Hurt,
1981) but also in the United Kingdom (Pedder,
1979), Canada (Newman,
1974), Germany, and other countries in Europe (Otte,
1998). While these studies provided useful information,
the lack of a common methodology prevents direct comparison between
them. For example, Pedder studied fatal crashes exclusively while
others looked at different injury levels as well. Injury coding
systems differ greatly due to a lack of standardization and differing
levels of detail, thus making direct comparisons difficult.
WE WANT TO BE
To continue to make progress in motorcycling safety, the motorcycling
community must be in a position to know what has happened to affect
motorcycle safety and why. The motorcycle safety community needs
to know facts about the motorcycle crash situation in current time.
What have we done right? Which safety countermeasures have been
effective? Which countermeasures are cost-effective, and which have
not been utilized that should have?
TO GET THERE
Defining the Population-at-Risk: Concurrent Exposure Data Collection
How do crash-involved motorcycles and riders compare with those
not involved in crashes? The most effective way to know is through
the collection of population-at-risk exposure data. Large-scale
data sources, such as departments of motor vehicles, can be surveyed
and compared with the population-at-risk identified through concurrent
exposure data collection. However, exclusive reliance on registration
or sales data sources will not define the on-road population-at-risk,
due to variability between registrations and actual on-road use.
A comparison group should be motorcycles and riders exposed to
the same risk but not involved in a crash. Population-at-risk
exposure data were collected as part of the Hurt Report methodology.
Those comparisons of crash population and population-at-risk allowed
specific analysis of over- and under-representation, and provided
the basis for development of countermeasures.
|under-representation, and provided the basis for development of
Other studies that attempted to draw conclusions about representation
in crashes without collecting exposure data (Kraus,
1988) have been strongly criticized. Others have surveyed
the population-at-risk without detailed study of crashes (Kraus,
1994, 1995). It is the collection of both crash data
and concurrent exposure data that provides the most meaningful
method of analysis and development of countermeasures.
Common Methodology for In-Depth Motorcycle Crash Investigations
An important recent development is the creation of Motorcycles:
Common International Methodology for In-Depth Motorcycle Accident
Investigation (OECD Common Methodology). This methodology
is based on that developed by Hurt and colleagues at USC for the
1981 DOT-NHTSA study. An international Technical Experts Group
was organized in 1997 under the International Coordinating Committee
of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The objectives of the OECD Common Methodology are to collect on-scene,
in-depth data to provide detailed knowledge about all aspects
of motorcycle crashes. A detailed listing of objectives is found
The OECD Common Methodology requires observation of the population-at-risk
to coincide with the investigation of the crash population.
The OECD Common Methodology allows flexibility in exposure data
collection methods ranging from remote observation to personal
interviews with at-risk motorcyclists (see Motorcyclist
Attitudes, page 15).
The objectives for exposure data collection are to define:
- Traffic characteristics
- Land use characteristics
- Vehicle characteristics
- Historical perspectives
- Data requirements
- National representation
- Application of countermeasures
- International correlation
The OECD Common Methodology is used in Europe in the Motorcycle
Accident In-Depth Study (MAIDS) project which covers five areas
in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and
the Netherlands. The total number of collected crashes should
be around 980, and the schedule completion date is the end of
2001. The OECD Common Methodology is also being used in Thailand.
Although such large-scale research is the only way to determine
many basic factors, there are opportunities to explore certain
critical areas of motorcycle safety with smaller-scale studies.
Examples of topics that could be addressed with such studies
are how motorcyclists form their attitudes, why other motorists
fail to see motorcyclists, what motorcyclists can do to counter
this, and which rider training regimens are most effective.
On a wider but less detailed level, development of a standardized
police crash report would greatly facilitate data analysis and
comparison between states.
Both government and industry have interests in the study of motorcycle
safety. The appropriate state and federal government agencies,
as well as the motorcycle industry, should share support and leadership
for motorcycle safety.