Twenty motorcycle focus groups were held in five cities or regions across the United States: 16 Rider Groups and 4 Leadership Groups. The cities or regions from which the focus group participants were chosen in consultation with NHTSA and based on one or more of the following considerations:
Table 1 displays the distribution of focus groups by city/region and type.
|Metropolitan Washington, DC, area||MC||riders||(5)|
|Metropolitan Washington, DC, area||MC||leadership||(0)|
|San Diego, CA||MC||riders||(3)|
|San Diego, CA||MC||leadership||(1)|
A total of 129 riders and 35 leaders participated in the groups spanning fall 2001 through early winter 2002. The groups were conducted in public and private facilities as follows: ∑
All focus groups were recorded by a central microphone with consent of the participants, and transcripts from the tapes were prepared by professional transcriptionists.
Recruiters identified potential participants by using a screening instrument (see Appendix A) that contained questions about riding habits, the use of alcohol, and riding after drinking. Rider Group participantsí ages ranged from 17 to 66 years. Despite an effort to recruit minority and younger riders, participants primarily were White and older. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) had taken a motorcycle safety course. More than half (55 percent) of the riders indicated they drank a few times per month to a few times per week, and almost half (49 percent) of the riders indicated that they drank at parties, social gatherings, or bars with friends and, thus, potentially might find themselves at risk of drinking and riding. Rider Group participants were split equally between those indicating that they occasionally or seldom rode after drinking and those indicating they never rode after drinking.
The Leadership Group participants were individuals who provide direction on issues related to motorcycle safety at the community, organizational, state, or national level. About a third of the Leadership Group participants work for state or local governments in administrative roles. Law enforcement participants were typically motorcycle patrol officers. Motorcycle industry leaders included those with safety and public communications roles. Leaders from motorcycle rider groups included state and regional organization officials.
This group was defined as people in a position to affect drinking and riding in some way and included but was not limited to:
Local site coordinators were recruited for Milwaukee, San Diego, Denver, and Jacksonville. Site coordinators generally were chosen based on their knowledge of motorcycling and connections to the local rider community. All site coordinators were either already known to PIRE or recommended by local PIRE contacts. PIRE staff coordinated local arrangements for the Metropolitan Washington, DC, area focus groups. The local site coordinators recruited participants for the Rider Groups. Methods of advertising included the following:
Using the PIRE-developed screening instrument (see Appendix A), site coordinators collected information concerning ridersí demographics and drinking-and-riding history. Only male riders were chosen for inclusion in the Rider Groups. Female motorcycle riders are virtually absent from the FARS cases, which indicates that female riders are not contributing substantially to the drinking-and-riding problem. To include male riders from all possible age groups, experience levels, ethnic backgrounds and rider types (e.g., weekend touring vs. daily commuting), riders in groups that might be potentially underrepresented in the study were given priority for the focus groups.
Participants for the Leadership Groups were recruited centrally from the PIRE office, with the assistance of NHTSA or PIRE contacts in each of the cities or regions.
Two Moderatorís Guides were developed: one for the Leadership Groups (Appendix B) and one for the Rider Groups (Appendix C). The range of topics in the Rider Moderatorís Guide included, but was not limited to, (1) situations where motorcyclists drink and ride; (2) reasons motorcyclists decide to drink and ride; (3) perceptions of the term ďBACĒ; (4) BAC and impairment; (5) reduction of drinking and riding among motorcyclists (motorcyclist willingness, effective strategies); and (6) roles of riders, rider groups, and various agencies in addressing impaired riding.
The Leadership Moderatorís Guide (Appendix B) emphasized five issues: (1) when riding skills become impaired, (2) what the legal BAC for motorcyclists should be, (3) effective strategies for reducing impaired motorcycling, (4) the appropriate roles for different agencies in addressing impaired motorcycling, and (5) barriers to reducing impaired motorcycling and ways to overcome them.
PIRE staff pilot tested the Rider Moderatorís Guide (Appendix C) at a focus group conducted with the staff at a motorcycle dealership in the Washington, DC area. Some adjustments were made to the guide after this dry run and, again, in consultation with NHTSA after the first Rider Group was conducted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The overall content did not change substantially.
As members of the focus groups gathered, they completed a participant information form covering demographics and drinking-and-riding habits. The focus groups ranged from 1Ĺ to 2 hours. A second team member took notes and assisted the moderator with forms, refreshments, and stipends. Rider Group participants also completed an Interventions and Countermeasures Ballot at the close of the focus group meeting.
Riders were paid $50 in cash at the end of the focus group meeting. Soft drinks and other refreshments were also provided. The stipend and food were both advertised as part of the recruitment effort. Leadership Group participants, many of whom were government employees, did not receive honoraria.
The 20 focus groups produced several hundred pages of transcripts. Overall themes were identified after consultation with project staff. We conducted an automated content analysis of the transcripts, using QSR NUD∑IST (QSR International Pty Ltd.), a qualitative data analysis software package that allows researchers to organize voluminous transcripted dialogue effectively and efficiently and characterize inherent themes (Loxley, 2001). Rider Groups and Leadership Groups were analyzed separately. Patterns and themes across groups were noted and illustrative quotes were identified for use in the report. QSR NUD∑IST allowed comprehensive examination of all transcripts and facilitated consistent coding by the research team. Tabular analysis of data from the participant information forms and the Interventions and Countermeasure Ballots was conducted using SPSS for Windows, Version 10.
Focus group research is a qualitative research technique used to gain insight and understanding into the nature of a problem. This technique allows researchers to interact directly with respondents and allows opportunities for clarification, followup questioning and probing of responses. The researchers also can observe nonverbal behavior that may supplement the verbal responses. Further, the synergistic effect of the group setting may result in the production of data or ideas that might not have been uncovered in individual interviews.
Focus group findings, however, are not survey results. Focus groups allow for insight into issues under study but not for statistical inference. Hence, our results cannot be generalized to all motorcyclists. This study is limited to five cities/regions across the United States. Although expansive from the perspective of focus group research, it does not necessarily provide a national perspective. Also, as is typical in any focus group study, the participants included in this study do not statistically represent the motorcycle-riding population in the United States. As noted earlier, the focus groups included only male riders because of the very small number of FARS-identified motorcyclist fatalities involving women. However, women riders might provide a worthwhile perspective on this issue for possible exploration in future studies.
BACK | TABLE OF CONTENTS | NEXT