Because local coordinators were typically better connected with one specific Rider Group network, the groups tended to be homogeneous with respect to type of motorcycle. Thus, many groups consisted of mostly riders of cruisers (i.e., motorcycles preferred for appearance, style, sound, and comfort); other groups were dominated by riders of sports bikes (i.e., motorcycles preferred for acceleration, top-speed, braking, and cornering).
Table 2 displays the breakdown by city of the 129 male motorcyclists participating in this study.
|City||Number of Participants|
|Washington, DC Metro||42|
Despite an effort to recruit minority and younger riders, participants tended to be White and older. However, fatally injured motorcyclists also are predominantly White and older. Participant ages ranged from 17 to 66 years. Mean rider age was 42.3 years. Tables 3 and 4 show breakdowns of riders by age group and ethnicity.
|Age Group (Yrs.)||Number of Participants|
|Ethnicity||Percentage of Participants|
Participants were asked several questions regarding their motorcycling experience, beliefs, and behaviors. Sixty-three percent of participants said they had taken a motorcycle safety course. Participants were asked how often they drank alcohol. Only 8 percent of the riders indicated that they drank every day, but 55 percent of the riders indicated they drank a few times per month to a few times per week. Nearly all respondents answering never identified themselves during the groups as recovering alcoholics and were recruited based on past experience with drinking and riding. Responses are shown in Table 5.
|Response||Percentage of Participants|
|A few times a month||32|
|A few times a week||23|
|Almost every day||8|
Participants were asked to choose one phrase that best described when and where they drink. Almost half of the riders (49 percent) indicated that they drank at parties, social gatherings, or at bars with friends, and thus potentially might find themselves at risk of drinking and riding. An additional 23 percent indicated that they drank at home with family and friends. The results are shown in Table 6.
|Response||Percentage of Participants|
|Only at parties and social gatherings||30|
|Only drink with meals||8|
|Drink at bars with friends||19|
|Drink at home with family and friends||23|
|Drink alone, at home, or in bars||6|
Of those answering other, most answered that they rarely or never drank. The remaining respondents in this category had indicated more than one choice.
Participants were asked how often they rode within 2 hours of consuming one or more alcoholic drinks. Rider Groups were split between those indicating that they occasionally or seldom rode after drinking and those indicating never. Five percent of the riders indicated that they rode very often after drinking. Responses are shown in Table 7.
|Response||Percentage of Participants|
Participants were asked about their belief in the likelihood of apprehension if they rode with a BAC higher than the State’s legal limit. Fifty-eight percent replied somewhat likely or very likely. Responses are shown in Table 8.
|Response||Percentage of Participants|
|Not likely or unlikely||2|
Participants were also asked how strongly they believe alcohol negatively affects their ability to ride safely. Ninety-one percent of the riders indicated very likely or somewhat likely. Only 8 percent thought it was unlikely. Responses are shown in Table 9.
|Response||Percentage of Participants|
|Not likely or unlikely||19|
Participants were asked if they agreed that drinking is a significant traffic safety problem for motorcycle riders. Seventy-five percent expressed agreement or strong agreement. Only 9 percent of riders indicated they disagreed. Responses are shown in Table 10.
|Response||Percentage of Riders|
|Neither agree or disagree||15|
The composition of the Leadership Groups by background is shown in Table 11. About a third of the leaders worked for state or local government in administrative roles. Law enforcement personnel who participated in the focus groups were typically motorcycle patrol officers. Motorcycle industry leaders included those with safety and public communications roles. Leaders from Rider Groups included state and regional organization officials. Although participants were asked to check only one response to the question of professional background, they were often associated with more than one area of motorcycle safety (e.g., State motorcycle program officials with a motorcycle instruction and law enforcement background). Motorcycle dealers, publishers of motorcycle-related magazines, and members of the hospitality industry from establishments’ known to have a large motorcyclist clientele were also contacted. Unfortunately, those individuals, while interested, were unable to attend.
|Response||Percentage of Leaders|
|Motorcycle safety instructor||14|
|Motorcycle industry employee||20|
A total of 35 people participated in the Leadership Groups. It was not considered essential for Leadership Group participants to be motorcyclists, although approximately two-thirds were currently riding motorcycles. More than half (56 percent) indicated that they rode two to three times a week or every day. Their responses are shown in Table 12.
|Response||Percentage of Responses|
|Once a week||11|
|2-3 times a week||26|
|Not currently riding or just started||15|
|Never rode regularly||18|
Across the focus groups, riders expressed similar reasons for riding a motorcycle. Typically, riders talked about experiencing the freedom of the open road and the benefits of an opportunity to unwind from life’s daily pressures. Others stated or implied that if one had to ask, one could not possibly understand.
|“I guess the reason I like to ride
is because as you see in all of the magazines and stuff about open road
and open air, and everything that goes with it.”
“You get out there, and you have to be thinking about what you’re doing once you’re on that bike. And then as you’re riding, yes, you crack that throttle, and that stress is just blowing right out in the breeze.”
“A friend of mine probably put it best, the most perfect form of transportation ever devised by man or God. I ride because I can’t imagine not riding.”
Many riders discussed the satisfaction derived from the challenge of mastering the operation of a motorcycle.
|“A bike is more challenging to operate properly than a car. I can’t afford a pilot’s license, so a bike’s it.”|
Others stated that riding a motorcycle was the focus of their social activities.
|“I mean, I feel the group that I’m with, there are 82 members, and we have social events throughout the year. And they’re friends, is part of it, it’s a social event, more or less.”
“I guess the second part is just, you know, there’s a large group of us that are kind of in this together and I kind of enjoy going to the rallies and stuff, and being with people who I’ve got a common interest with. That’s about it.”
“You get the personal freedom, the camaraderie, and do a lot of traveling…If you run into another motorcycle that’s by the wayside, you’ve got a conversation. You’ve got stories to tell, and then you’ve got a friend for life.”
Riders consistently expressed a sense of membership and commitment to a larger motorcycling community. They discussed a concern for and willingness to aid other riders as compared to drivers of automobiles.
|“But, I mean, there’s a camaraderie with motorcyclists. You know, you see a motorcycle on the side of the road as you’re passing, you stop. You know, you don’t keep [on going…] – it’s not like in a car where you just blow by them and nobody cares.”
“Yeah, I’ve stopped on the freeway just to wait for another, you know, if somebody breaks down or something, others will move forward or whatever and wait at the next exit. I’ll pull over next to the exit and people will actually stop, ‘You all right?’ Yep.”
Riders in our focus groups expressed a range of riding preferences. Some primarily rode in groups, others rode alone, and some rode both alone and in groups depending on the circumstances. Group riders described regular riding with a club, others described riding as part of a large event, and others described riding with informal groups with rotating membership.
I ride with a club. We have a monthly ride, and I find that in between
that I’ll end up calling somebody, and we’ll get together and go out
“But I kind of like riding in a group… And it’s really amazing. I did the Ride for Kids a couple weeks ago. There were 785 bikes, and it was just fascinating to be in, to look forward and see nothing but taillights on, and look behind you and see nothing but solo headlights. It was fantastic.”
“…But on the weekends, if I go riding, I’ve got a group of, there’s about 12 of us that mix and match on any given weekend. It could be 12, could be two, could be three…”
However, some riders had reservations about the size of their regular riding group.
I ride with the Honda Sport Touring Association a fair amount. And I
like riding in groups to a degree. When [group size] start[s] to get
too big, then they get out of control. Less than ten is usually a manageable
size group. You start getting into 20 bikes and you spread out pretty
far and it’s hard to tell where the last bike is and, you know, the
various skill levels.”
“I ride for fun with people, but I try to limit the number of people that I’m with to no more than four or five at the max. Because when I do ride with a large group, it’s very chaotic…I don’t even know if they’ve been drinking or not, but…a motorcycle is very fast, and it’s dangerous without even drinking. And when you have 20 people in a group who have 1000cc’s or more, that’s a very dangerous situation to be in. So, I like to have a small group…”
Road captains/ride captains (road captains used in remainder of report) are responsible for group safety. Riders reported that group members generally respected the decisions of the road captains.
|“Our chapter road captains talk about how we look down on drinking and that if you’re going to drink, you know, don’t do it in excess. If you do it in excess, you know, we’re going to call you a cab, and we’re going to make arrangements to get your bike either picked up or brought back to your house.”|
Lone riders either rode alone to and from work or rode recreationally alone by preference. Some riders stated that other riders were not as committed to riding as themselves, and thus, they preferred to ride alone to enjoy motorcycling in as pure a form as possible.
|“Almost exclusively alone. It fits in with, I don’t know, my loner type attitude. I think a lot of people who love bikes, it’s to be alone, to get away from everyday situations and so forth. It’s the freedom of being alone.”|
Most focus group participants acknowledged only occasional or social drinking, which is consistent with the data collected through the participant information forms.
|“Very little. Maybe a Margarita twice a year or something like that.”|
A minority of riders indicated that they drank one or more times a week.
|“I usually have one or two when I get home from work.”|
Questions about drinking and riding a motorcycle typically elicited consistently strong negative responses. But, a few riders admitted to drinking and riding, typically qualified by “not as much as I used to drink” and “I know my limit.” Commonly, riders acknowledged the relative complexity of operating a motorcycle compared to driving a car and the need for maximum alertness and concentration. Interestingly, even the few participants who were less critical of drinking and riding expressed a consistent concern for drinking and riding, but tempered it with their experience or above-average riding ability.
impaired after one drink. And although it may be slight, there’s some
impairment there, and the first thing that goes is your judgment. So
you think you can, you know, go out and get on the bike and ride, and
in reality, you may not be capable of doing it.”
“My rule of thumb on my bike is, I’ll have one beer, max, because I feel confident I can ride. You hear maybe two beers an hour on a bike or whatever, but I don’t even go there, I cut that in half.”
Though few riders stated that they drank and rode, those who did almost always qualified their remarks, either by indicating that they now drank less alcohol than they had in the past or that they carefully monitored their alcohol intake.
why, when I go out, two is the limit. If I’m going to stay there any
longer, it’s either water or a Coke afterwards.”
“If I go to a biker event, I will drink, but I will limit myself. I mean, I just know, at our age, you just know already that you’re good for a beer maybe an hour if you’re going to ride again.”
At least one rider indicated that self-imposed limits to drinking alcohol did not always work as planned.
|“I don’t know how many of them really are disciplined enough that they really stick to that. But personally, what I’ve seen, the majority don’t really stick to that…they might say, ‘Well, two’s my limit,’ and the next thing you know…I’ve seen them get four.”|
Most rider-reported accounts of drinking and riding included the following settings: (1) biker bars (rider-friendly bars) that serve as social focal points where drinking ultimately occurs; (2) drinking at various other bars and public establishments; (3) drinking that occurs during poker runs; (4) drinking that occurs at large national or regional motorcycle rallies or events; and (5) club meetings.
Biker bars are establishments that either cater specifically to the riding community or over time have been adopted by riders as their enclaves. Some offer special features that are attractive to riders, as described in the following quote:
|“There’s a place that I used to live, just up the street from [name of bar], on Route _, just south of [city], … you can ride your bike up to the bar, [and] sit on the saddle with an open drink.”|
It is clear from the Rider Groups that bars in general are traditional meeting places and rendezvous points for riders. It seems that for some riders, these establishments serve as convenient meeting places and that the availability of alcoholic beverages is truly secondary. However, for others, the drinking of alcohol is a focal event.
|“I used to hang with guys, and Friday night we’d go bar-hopping on the bikes. Nobody held a gun to my head and said I had to drink. I didn’t have to drink, but there were guys that had a drink at each bar, or two drinks at each bar, or we’d go to a bar and just sit there all night and then go home.”|
Motorcycle club meetings can occur at private venues or at public bars or restaurants. Club meetings are more of a context and activity, rather than a venue.
|“When I have a club meeting, there are a couple guys in the club that really like to pound down a few, and they always ride up to the meeting. And I always feel uncomfortable watching them drink.”|
Riders in our groups described poker runs as organized rides on a route consisting of destinations that riders visit to collect a card for their hand (written verification of arrival at a particular destination). They typically purchase products (alcoholic or nonalcoholic) or services offered for sale by each establishment on the route.1
Traditionally, according to the riders in our groups, poker runs consist of circuits of bars, and riders may drink one or more alcoholic beverages at each stop. They stated that considerable drinking can occur under these circumstances. Of all the drinking-and-riding circumstances described by riders, these discussions were the most animated. It seems clear that riders in our groups believe that much of the organized group drinking-and-riding centers on this type of activity.
wonder how anybody’s getting killed with all these responsible bikers,
huh? I was on a poker run Saturday, and I can tell you that at 11 in
the morning, people are having their Bloody Mary’s, and you’re doing
140 miles, and there are six stops, so those guys are having six drinks
in 3 hours. So it gets, probably towards the end, too much. You know,
if you aren’t drunk, you’re at the verge of being drunk.”
“One of the things where I see it a lot is on the poker runs. When you do the poker runs, a lot of the stops are usually at bars, and these guys, you know, they go around and each stop they make, they drink a couple of beers. And by the time they get to the end of the rally that lasts about 2 hours, and they’ve had about 10 beers and it’s like, okay, in 2 hours, 10 beers?”
Some riders offered a slightly more sympathetic view of poker runs, emphasizing that the purchase of alcohol beverages was an unintentional, untoward consequence of the venues chosen for the route. But, the following excerpt provides insight into some rider perceptions of acceptable, nonintoxicating levels of alcohol consumption.
|“Let’s put it this way, on any of our rides, except for the poker run, there is no time for alcohol except maybe after you get to the destination…you expect everybody to purchase something;…it’s a benefit of the person that’s donating the place for the poker run. …You’ve got five stops in 100 miles, you’re looking at 2½ hours, so even statistically, you should not be intoxicated if you only have one beer at each place. Theoretically, I’m talking about. But the intention of the poker run is not to get the person intoxicated. The poker run, all poker runs, whether they be motorcycles, snowmobiles, or whatever, involve – in the Midwest anyway – they involve bars. You didn’t go to the baker shop or a hamburger [stand]… We don’t go to five restaurants. Who’s going to eat five hamburgers in 2 hours, and then have a meal afterwards.”|
Finally, some riders mentioned poker runs with stops at establishments that did not serve alcohol, but these accounts were less common than those equating poker run checkpoints with bars.
not at bars or anything, you’re just stopping to draw a card, that’s
all you’re doing.”
“We have an ice cream run, and Sunday we’ll have a brunch ride that will be nonalcoholic, except for the beginning and the end. If there’s any stops in between, it will be a nonalcoholic stop.”
National and regional motorcycle rallies and events have gained notoriety for considerable levels of drinking and riding. Riders described this activity as inevitable due to the festive atmosphere of these events and the universal opportunities for the purchase of alcohol. Although there was some police presence on roadways leading to and from these events, apparently event staff did little to intervene with obviously impaired riders or to prevent riders from becoming impaired in the first place. Also, riders in our groups indicated that these events drew inexperienced riders and that alcohol-induced impairment exacerbated the problems associated with this inexperience.
|“I think another big situation, since we’re talking about bikes, with my experience with outings with bikes, it seems like all the big shindigs, you know, like Daytona, Myrtle Beach, everything is revolved around a damn bar.”|
In many of the groups, most of the riders rode similar motorcycles, such as cruisers or sports bikes. Though unintentional, this feature produced interesting findings on the question of “Who was drinking and riding?” Consistently, cruiser groups identified sports bike riders as the ones who were principally responsible for drinking and riding.
|“…I live in [city] and I commonly go down and [you can see] the sports bike riders down there…helmet on the table, beer in hand, and I see that on a daily basis.”|
Sports bike riders, in turn, spoke of riders of cruisers as principally responsible for drinking and riding.
|“You know, like the cruisers, the Harley guys,…go to the bars with the beer and all that.”|
In focus groups where the number of sports bike and cruiser riders was approximately equal, a third response was noted.
|“Younger riders… Yeah. Kids that don’t know what’s best.”|
In addition, local club leaders believe that inexperienced and unaffiliated riders account for many alcohol-related fatalities.
weekend warriors that get on a bike and do 500 miles a year and only
come out for the rallies when there is drinking. And they drink like
they normally drink when they’re in the car, but now they’re on the
bike, and they’re not accustomed to riding the bike, and that’s where
the accidents come in, because they’re not acclimated to the bike as
they are to the car. You know, they’ve been driving the car since they
were 16; they’ve been driving the bike for the last 2 years and only
drove 500 miles a year, they’re not going to be one with the bike like
you would be with a car.”
“Where you’re talking about single riders having most of the accidents, these are people that aren’t involved in these groups and haven’t had the awareness taught to them. They haven’t had the constant reminders of what can happen, and I think that leads to it.”
Most participants readily recognized the term “BAC” as an abbreviation for “blood alcohol content” or “blood alcohol concentration.”
|“I would say it’s a scientific term to mean the amount of alcohol in your blood.”|
Some participants talked about a relationship between BAC and impairment. Most participants indicated that other factors such as tolerance to alcohol and riding ability mediated the relationship between BAC and impairment. Discussions of BAC and impairment were generally more animated than other parts of most focus groups. BAC was typically characterized as only relevant to riders as defendants in legal proceedings. Some participants discussed the arbitrary nature of legal designations of impairment based on BAC levels.
not impairment level. A good, trained drunk can still look like quite
normal. Whereas a person who doesn’t drink very often, two or three
drinks might just knock ‘em flat.”
“Well, if you talk like, you know, .08 percent BAC, not everybody is impaired the same amount at that point. It’s just an arbitrary line in the sand.”
The group members discussed establishing lower BAC levels for riders than for drivers. Participants at times contradicted themselves when talking about the complex operation of a motorcycle versus different BACs for riders and drivers. Riders readily agreed that riding a motorcycle required a high level of concentration, judgment, coordination, and handling ability.
riding is much more complex than driving a car, for a lot of reasons.”
“It’s a vehicle you control with your body.”
However, the majority of riders were strongly opposed to lower BACs for riders2. The following excerpt captures common views expressed on both the arbitrary nature of legally prescribed BAC levels and opposition to setting a lower BAC for riders than drivers. Riders felt that lower illegal BACs for riders were discriminatory and would set a precedent for differential rule-setting that might lead to more draconian measures at a later time.
know, but for law purposes, they had to set a standard, and that’s what
they did. So to set it lower for motorcycles versus cars, it’s just,
it’s all arbitrary.”
“Isn’t that discrimination?”
“I don’t want different laws for cars and motorcycles, because once you cross that line, you can start instituting other things.”
“In that case, then I want a different limit for SUVs that weigh 3,000 pounds, you know, if they’re going to lower the limits trying to keep people from drinking and driving, I think it should go all the way across the board. I mean, I don’t care what you’re in—an airplane, a car, a boat, a motorcycle, a gas-powered skateboard—I don’t give a ______. Impairment’s impairment.”
Furthermore, when an occasional rider expressed quiet support for lower BACs for riders than drivers, an “education, not regulation” viewpoint generally emerged.
rather see, through education, a change of behavior, rather than through
regulation. Because with regulation, you just pile on more and more
and it’s hard to find a stopping point there.”
“…any motorcyclist by their nature [is] a little more independent, and they don’t want to be told what to do or have anyone nagging them or anything. ….that whole Big Brother aspect.”
Across the groups, nearly all riders expressed a willingness to reduce their personal level of drinking and riding. Participants stated that motorcycling and alcohol were not inseparably linked. They suggested that riders were attracted to motorcycling because of its inherent excitement and the satisfaction derived from the activity, and not from the pleasure received from drinking alcohol.
not like it was years ago, it’s okay now to walk around with a glass
of water and no one will look at you funny.”
“…there are other people that believe that poker runs are not bars and should not be bars, and should not stop at bars.”
Riders have a strong sense of community with other riders. For example, many riders would stop to help a motorcyclist on the roadside, even a stranger. However, this notion is bounded by respect for individuality and the concept of responsibility for one’s own actions. The following sections explore the balance between intervening with a fellow rider who is impaired versus respect for individual responsibility and independence.
know, it’s like it’s each person’s individual responsibility to do things
that are best for them.”
“…bikers are generally fiercely independent people, and maybe one of the disadvantages of that independence is the most fiercely independent people have a real aversion towards messing in anybody else’s business because they don’t like people messing in theirs. So on that level, they might be less likely to say anything. Well, you know, he ought to know his own mind.”
“I always feel uncomfortable watching [other bikers] drink. And I even said something to one of the guys, you know, ‘If you’re on your bike, two or three is more than enough, much more than enough.’ But they do it anyway. You can only talk to people so much and it’s their lives. And you hate to see them get in any accidents or anything, but, you can only do so much [emphasis added].”
In almost every focus group that was conducted, a majority of riders compared drinking and riding a motorcycle with drinking and driving a car, stating that with a motorcycle they will only hurt themselves, not others. This apparently pervasive view seems to reinforce respect for individual decision-making and also increase reluctance for others to intervene. Further, many riders believed that police officers also shared this view and that enforcement activities were focused more on drivers of automobiles who might injure or kill others if involved in an alcohol-related crash.
see my opinion is, if you’re going to be drinking then driving, I’d
rather be on the motorcycle in some respects because at least I’m only
putting myself at risk instead of, when you could do a lot more damage
behind the wheel of a car than you can behind the handlebars of a motorcycle,
to other people. I’d rather just put myself at risk in that way.”
“But the only thing about riding that motorcycle [after drinking], they’re just going to kill themselves.”
Riders discussed several different approaches to intervention. The first level of intervention described by participants is to minimize the opportunity for riders to drink alcohol. In contrast to the poker runs discussed earlier, participants reported organized rides centered on public establishments other than bars.
best time to intervene is before the first drink is served and if you
do have to deal with a drunk, do it in numbers [with other persons involved].”
“The average, everyday person gets a stereotype that bikers stop at bars and drink… our brunch rides…. They’re at 11:00, 12:00 in the morning, 1:00 in the afternoon. A lot of us don’t drink anything but orange juice or soda that early in the morning. All our rides that are planned have designated stops that are usually restaurants or gas stations, no bars.”
Intervention can be successful before a rider becomes impaired.
|“They stopped drinking. The next stop that they came to, they came in like 5 or 10 minutes after us. They had a soda. They had stopped drinking. They said that they would stop drinking for the rest of the day until we went to the hotel that night, parked our bikes, and whatever they do after that, they’re on their own.”|
The next level of intervention begins after a ride is in progress and group members have decided to drink alcohol.
When riders believe that one member of the group is too impaired to ride safely, several factors affect the potential intervener’s actions. Our study suggests that two factors are important predictors of intervention: (1) the familiarity of the prospective intervener with the intoxicated rider, and (2) the feasibility of securing or otherwise transporting the intoxicated rider’s motorcycle until he is fit to ride.
Friendship seems necessary for intervention.
|“It would depend if they’re a friend or not.”|
Some riders’ comments suggested that the level of determination to stop a friend was related to the length of the friendship.
|“Like I said, I ride with a friend that I’ve known for many years. And if it came down to it, yeah, I’d take the keys from him, whatever it took – stand in front of his bike if he was trying to take off, whatever.”|
But, some riders expressed concerns about intervening, even with friends.
have some really good friends, but I don’t know, I’d think a long time
before I’d touch their bike.”
“You could get killed for touching other people’s bikes.”
“I ride with some guys, I mean you can mess around with their wives and they wouldn’t care, but don’t touch their bike.”
Participants’ views suggest that motorcycles are valued for more than a means of transportation or a possession. This leads to extreme reluctance, even when riders are intoxicated, to leave a motorcycle behind. This perception also leads to some reluctance by peers to assume responsibility for the rider’s motorcycle. This viewpoint hampers efforts based on “friends not letting friends drive drunk.” Calling a taxi for an impaired rider simply is not an option in most cases, nor is a designated driver.
going to leave a $15,000, $20,000 bike sitting there. I wouldn’t leave
my old bike out. So, much less a good bike.”
“Because I don’t know anybody that would leave their bike at a bar. I wouldn’t, no matter what it took, I wouldn’t leave a bike at a bar. If I had to sleep on it that night, I wouldn’t.”
“You can’t have a designated driver in a group of motorcyclists, you know. The guy’s got a lot of money in this iron right there, he’s not going to leave it behind.”
“…None of that’s going to happen. No one’s going to leave their bike wherever it’s at and take a taxi.”
Without exception and across all Rider Groups, riders stated that they valued their motorcycles above everything else. Only the mention of lower BACs for riders than drivers evoked stronger responses and more striking body language.
Concern for the security of the motorcycle overshadows all other issues.
“I’d have to be passed out before I would leave my bike...”
“Like he said, I think a big thing as far as helping out a drunken biker, is if you can assure him, even in his drunken state, that you will take care of his motorcycle, you know, I’ll drive your bike home, Joe.”
“When they’re drinking and they’re drunk, you have to convince them that you’re going to take those keys and put them in your pocket, and you’re taking responsibility of their bike and that it’s going to be there in the morning.”
Road captains intervene with drinking riders. Road captains reinforce the club policies, verbal or written, before each ride begins. Thus, expectations for responsible behavior are established, as well as consequences for violations of the rules.
|“And that’s spelled out right before the ride even begins. It’s drilled into them every single time on an organized ride. By getting it drilled into them in this group of people that they know and they respect, I think it means more like that.”|
Road captains are not always formally designated, but some loosely organized group rides include respected riders who function in that role without the title. The results of the Rider Groups suggest that road captains are a common feature of group rides and that they are not limited to groups with an organized structure.
this case, it happened to have been my idea, and I was the unofficial
road captain for that trip, and there were no incidents…. It would have
been my responsibility to make sure that that person got set aside from
the bike and didn’t ride his scooter home.”
“Every club, not just this club, but the Honda clubs and others, they all have road captains. They may not necessarily call them a ‘road captain,’ but they are the designated person that’s in charge of the pack while it’s going down the road, which is involved in protection and safety of the pack.”
One or more followup (or run) trucks or automobiles pulling trailers may accompany group rides on trips of several hundred miles or more. Although originally used solely in cases of mechanical breakdown of a motorcycle, the followup truck can take an impaired rider off the road and secure the motorcycle.
you always take a run truck, or you take a couple of cars with a trailer
and all that, you know, and most of the guys are on the bikes.”
“It could happen for any number of reasons. It could happen for a mechanical breakdown, or a guy getting inebriated and we feel that he is unsafe. He’s endangering us as well as himself. And that’s the time he goes into the truck.”
“[If] you don’t have somebody else to ride his scooter, the scooter goes in the back of the truck.”
Road captains in our focus groups clearly stated that this type of intervention is not necessarily motivated by concern for the impaired rider.
|“It’s not necessarily always for their benefit. I’ll be honest with you, if the fool’s stupid enough to go out there – and no offense to anybody that drinks, I’ve been sober 14 years and I was a stone-cold alcoholic – if you’re stupid enough to go out there and ride on a motorcycle, you might as well get laid down and put in the ground. But it’s the other people that you’re going to kill, is the reason why I stopped it.”|
One or more cars with extra riders may follow the pack. Some clubs will substitute one of the riders traveling by car for an impaired rider on a motorcycle.
|“Or if you catch one person and you throw them in the car, and if there’s another brother in the car, he gets out and rides his bike. You know, we’re conscious of who is going to be able to do that. We just had a Reno run, and that happened to one of the guys. He stayed up all night and almost took the whole pack out. So he [a second rider] got out of the car, and we put another brother on his bike.”|
It appears that under certain circumstances, fellow riders can successfully intervene with riders. These circumstances include the following:
|“But like when I go to the bars and drink, …I go to bars where I’ve got friends, in this town anyway. And when I get there, if I start getting too drunk, they’ll tell me. They’ll say, ‘Hey, why don’t you just ride with us?’ You know, push your bike inside the bar here, leave it, come back tomorrow and get it.”|
Some riders reported other effective approaches to preventing impaired riders from riding their motorcycles. Some of these interventions do not necessarily occur in the context of a group ride, but perhaps in a night on the town. Calling a cab may occur, but only with a suitable plan for securing the impaired rider’s motorcycle.
a guy that, where I used to live was riding, and we were all out together
and he was getting ready to take off, and me and a couple other of my
buddies stopped in and got his keys and called his wife and she came
and got him and picked up his bike the next day.”
“We’ve shoved people in a cab, give the cab driver money, say, ‘here. Take him.’”
“And then, I mean, it’s happened here, or with friends of ours, where you just, ‘Hey, you’re not riding.’ Well, what about my bike? I’m running home to get the trailer, put it in the trailer and I’ll come back and get it. Leave the old lady or somebody there watching the bike, take him home, and go back and get his bike.”
Tampering with an impaired rider’s motorcycle so that it will not start or confiscating ignition keys are other common approaches. If a rider is sufficiently impaired, they are not likely to identify the malfunction as an intervention.
right. Plug wires, main switch. The drunk will never even realize what’s
wrong. He’ll sit there and try to turn it.”
“We pulled the main fuse on the Gold Wing.”
In the focus groups, at least one group of participants expressed less inhibition regarding the recipients of an intervention.
do it to anybody.”
“If I knew… [A rider is] falling down drunk, and I see him heading towards his bike… yeah, I’d pull the plug.”
Some riders merely separate the impaired rider from their group. Though group leaders and members seem well versed in informal techniques to minimize the incidence of drinking and riding, as suggested above, there clearly are limits to further action. There are circumstances when riders do not respond to the pleas of their peers who seem to leave no choice but distance for safety. Thus, the drinking rider(s) are separated from the remainder of the group. Of course, this type of intervention does not contribute to the safety of the drinking rider, but it presumably would contribute to the safety of the rider’s peers. Further, given the strong social component of group motorcycle riding, ostracizing the drinking riders from the pack may be persuasive in preventing reoccurrence.
shouldn’t really be riding. You know, if you want to drink, go find
another group to ride with, because we don’t need that.”
“…we’ve got a riding policy where if we think you’re drinking too much, you’re on your own. You’re not with the group.”
“We got them at the end of the pack, and they were like 10 or 15 minutes behind us. We would not allow them to ride with us until they stopped drinking. They just weren’t allowed to ride in our group, because we’re afraid that something is going to happen with them. We told them to stay there, park their bike, get a motel room, they’re adults.”
Some participants also claimed that they would consider contacting police to keep a dangerous rider off the road.
|“If I didn’t know the person, and I tried to talk them out of getting on the bike, and they were just insistent or got abusive about it, I would call the police.”|
Focus group participants discussed several countermeasures. Responses in this area were striking because they were extremely consistent across all groups. The following responses represent the views of the focus group participants. They do not necessarily reflect effectiveness evidenced in research or scientific studies.
Contrasting with the views reported on the rider participant information forms, riders were confident that they could ride impaired and yet not be identified and apprehended by police. In open discussion, increased fines, jail time, and license revocation were not considered at all threatening by the vast majority of riders in our focus groups. Riders generally believe that their chances of detection for impaired riding are less than those for drivers of cars. Riders cite law enforcement officials’ lack of familiarity with detection cues of motorcycle riding. They point out that cues such as swerving do not work because all riders can be expected to move from side to side as a regular part of motorcycle operation.
can ride [after drinking alcohol] for years and never get pulled over.”
“Yeah, I think unless a rider is really toasted, because I think that most cops, most people in general are not as familiar with what the drunk motorcyclist looks like than a drunk car…. It’s harder for a cop to actually detect your riding and drinking too. There’s sort of, it’s easier to see a car swerving and stuff….”
“Yeah, we’re changing our lane position constantly when we’re riding and that’s the same thing that’s going to happen when you’re drinking.”
The majority of riders in our groups perceived fines, imprisonment, and license suspension as largely ineffective. However, some riders indicated that financial disincentives in other forms might be effective.
maxed out, all you’re doing is increasing it. It’s not going to phase
“For the most part, riders are adults. They, right or wrong assume that, you know, it’s their life, it’s their thing, they’re going to do what they want. They’re responsible human beings; if they want to have a beer and ride, they’re going to have a beer and ride. If you triple the penalty and double the fine, I don’t think that’s going to have a whole lot of influence on that general attitude. I know I feel that way. If you increase the fines, I’d just be more surreptitious about drinking and riding”
“Jail time is not going to help. Loss of license? I know right now I can name 30 people that don’t have a license, and they’re driving bikes and cars. They don’t care. Take their motorcycle away…”
“…pulling a license doesn’t mean anything because there’s all kind of guys riding without licenses, particularly motorcycles.”
“You don’t have to have a license to buy a motorcycle.”
Interestingly, the results of the countermeasures balloting reported later in this report differ from comments offered during the focus groups.
Although fines alone were not viewed as an effective deterrent, the combined costs of legal proceedings including fines, court-ordered rehabilitation costs, and/or vehicle impoundment were reported by the focus group participants as an effective incentive to avoid drinking and riding.
Charging riders with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol may not be effective for all riders.
|“I know guys with 12 DUIs. You think they care?”|
The mention of impoundment, however, provoked animated discussion. Riders respect the prospect of impoundment of their motorcycle for drinking-and-riding offenses.
think that that would be a really good incentive. That would be a reality
check right there.”
“That would probably be more so than a dollar fine.”
“The State of Arizona convinced me when they said they were going to impound my motorcycle, plus I went back to the fairgrounds under somebody else’s power [on a friend’s motorcycle].”
“And you can’t get it back…you know, you’ve served your 60 days without your license or whatever the penalties that you are given, once you’ve met all those requirements to get all that stuff back, then you can get your bike back.”
The tone of the discussion was much more serious regarding the costs associated with the consequences of drinking and riding. Some riders said that the total cost of a DUI offense, including court-ordered rehabilitation costs, impoundment and storage fees, and other related costs, totaled at least $10,000 in some cases.
will easily, yeah, …CHP [California Highway Patrol] came by to do a
safety brief for us and it was like, the average cost was like a little
over $11,000 is what your financial burden is….”
“That $10,000 thing, you know.”
“That, and then all the time [in a rehabilitation program], the storage fees for the impoundment.”
Towards the end of most focus groups, riders were encouraged to describe approaches to curb drinking and riding that they thought might be effective with their peers. These discussions ranged from explorations of values that are important to riders for promotional campaigns or training to detailed discussion of the specifics of campaigns and/or training.
Riders’ comments suggest that peer approaches offer some hope for effective intervention. An impaired rider’s peers may have influence over the rider.
best way to get somebody else, the guy’s an independent guy, he thinks
for himself and is going to do what he wants to do, but if you find
he happens to be with a friend, you may make a connection to that guy
to help the other guy stop drinking.”
“…I agree with that, because a lot of times when you get situations where you’re impaired, but if you have three or four buddies trying to tell you, you know, what you’re about to do is not a good idea, sometimes the message will slowly get through…”
A consistent theme expressed by riders was that messages discouraging drinking and riding may influence his friends, even though it many not influence a particular rider’s actions.
might not be something specifically targeting the person who will be
drinking and riding, but the people who will be riding with them… everybody
looking out for each other, as opposed to people looking out for themselves.”
“I would say 99 percent of the time it’s not the rider, because, I don’t know, it’s a Super Man complex, ‘I’m not leaving my bike. I can make it home. I’m not that drunk.’ You know, and it’s their buddy saying, ‘Hey, man, you’re pretty wasted. Let me call somebody.’”
“I think it’s more the reinforcement that other riders are giving the rider.”
The following exchange of dialogue further supports this view:
“Yeah. Pretty much, at this point.”
“That it’s okay to leave your bike?”
“Same stuff that starts you drinking can keep you from getting on the bike in the end.”
Earlier in this report, we described the value of a motorcycle to its rider. It was suggested in more than one group that the rider’s preoccupation with his motorcycle might be used as a motivating factor in a media campaign. Tow truck operators were frequently accused of unnecessarily damaging motorcycles when they were called to tow them.
thought of a cop calling a tow truck to come and haul your bike away
gives you a sobering thought.”
“If you’ve seen the way they’ve chained some of them up….”
Another approach suggested by riders is based on the cost of motorcycles.
|“The only thing [that] makes a difference…especially with the cost of bikes now, that has a lot of money invested in their bike, and you point out to them that, you know, if you screw up your bike, that’s it, that’s more of an incentive than it is telling them, ‘If you ride your bike, you’re going to kill yourself.’ Because they don’t believe they’re going to kill themselves, but they are worried about messing up their bikes.”|
Riders in this study repeatedly explained their riding behaviors in terms of self-impact only; that is, their behavior and its consequences affect only themselves. Some riders suggested an approach to counter this attitude.
have a family, a wife, and a couple of kids standing around a grave.
And a motorcyclist is being buried, you know, or something to that effect.
Because it impacts not just you, but it impacts all those that you love.”
“Yeah, you have to show who it impacts. Like…. the drug commercial. The one commercial that really hit home for me is the, I think it was actually MADD who did it. They had little kids on there. They’d show like home videos of the kids, and then at the end they’d come up and say, ‘Killed, blah-blah-blah, this date, by a drunk driver.’ Those really hit home to me.”
At least one participant suggested an educational approach based on boosting riders’ views of the importance of their own lives to their families.
|“And it just is that… thought of, if I’m driving by myself, it’s only my life I’m risking. If I’m in the car with my entire family, I’m willing to slow down and take fewer chances to not risk their lives. And that’s something you need to get across to motorcycle riders that their life is just as valuable as their families’ lives.”|
Riders suggested that the context and content for drinking-and-riding messages is important.
“I do think a motorcyclist would respond better to a more motorcyclist-oriented commercial.”
“You hear something about a motorcycle, and you’re paying attention because it’s what you do. It’s what you love; it’s what you like. You hear something that is motorcycle specific, you’re going to sit up and pay attention, ‘What was he saying about motorcycles?’ So I think it has to be something that is targeted at motorcycles.”
“I just think it will catch motorcyclists’ attention more if it was targeted at motorcycles. Like if you heard the ad on the radio, and like as soon as somebody says something about a motorcycle on the radio, you’re instantly tuned into it because you’re a rider.”
Another approach suggested was to expand current media campaigns to include motorcycling.
|“You don’t have to make a separate campaign, you just say, you know, ‘Don’t drink and drive, don’t drink and ride.’”|
Furthermore, riders stressed the importance of targeting the message to programming aimed at riders and even towards specific rider subcultures (e.g., cruisers, sport riders). A rider expressed this view in response to a suggestion to recruit popular motocross riders to appear in public service announcements.
|“Put it on shows like Speed Vision, American Thunder, you know.”
“I mean everybody I know watches Speed Vision, and they’ve got shows targeted to cruiser guys, and they’ve got shows targeted to sports bike guys.”
“You might connect with a certain rider or a certain group of riders, but motorcyclists across the board, well, what do I care about motocross? I wouldn’t walk across the street to see it for free…. So if I’ve got some yahoo that does motocross saying, ‘You shouldn’t drink and drive,’ it’s like, hey, kiss off. I’m going to go get a beer.”
There was some discussion of the perceived ineffectiveness of traditional drinking-and-driving messages, perceived by riders to be focused on drivers of automobiles, including the well-known “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.”
|“I mean, they had a commercial, ‘Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.’”
“But a lot of people, you know, will not approach their friends.”
Alternatively, participants suggested more provocative messages and shocking content, based on rider social values.
|“I saw a really good poster last year at Bike Week. It was a guy with a bike and he says, ‘I drink. I get drunk. I get in a crash. I die. My brother-in-law gets my motorcycle.’ It goes on with this list. And you know, I really honestly think that if you start hitting people between the eyes with, ‘Drinking will kill you, on a motorcycle,’ and advertise it, it works.”
“An amputee. Show a guy with, missing one leg.”
“A guy in a wheelchair saying, ‘I wish I was still on two wheels.’”
“Like the poster they currently have around saying, ‘Hogs can fly,’ and it’s pretty much a disassembled Harley that obviously hit something solid.”
Finally, discussions of the practices of alcohol servers and event staff provided a suggestion for additional training that not only emphasized recognition of impaired riders, but also included intervention techniques.
|“Why not set up some sort of required brief[ing] from some safety official, whether it be local or State or whatever, all personnel that are personally involved in a rally with security, parking, vending, whatever, make it mandatory that they go through a drunk-driving brief[ing]. You know, some sort of awareness training of what you can do legally, what you should do, what are the techniques for handling someone who is too drunk to drive.”|
In addition to the Rider Groups, we conducted groups with organizational leaders. Although more technical in nature, the leaders’ views were remarkably similar in content to the riders’ views, downplaying the perceived relationship between BAC and impairment.
alcohol concentration is just the measurement of the blood of the alcohol
concentration at the time of the test. It does not dictate a certain
degree of impairment….”
“…Because of tolerance and compensation that a person may have, a younger person for example, who’s a nondrinker, may have a very low BAC or blood alcohol concentration, and be falling down drunk; where an older person who has experienced drinking before, who can compensate, who can tolerate, may have a very sobering indicia around him that may not, to a lay person, indicate intoxication or even impairment.”
“I think if you’re just talking about alcohol, it gives a good baseline to determine whether somebody’s impaired or drunk. But it’s a societal judgment that puts that this line means that you’re impaired or drunk.”
“I suppose it [BAC and impairment] doesn’t take into account personal sensitivity to alcohol, since some people are a whole lot more sensitive to it, and some people less so.”
In isolation, blood alcohol measures also fail to include impacts of street drugs and prescription medications that interact with alcohol.
|“…besides just alcohol, you always have the possibility of drugs too. So you might have a .00 on a breathalyzer and they’re still impaired because of the drugs.”|
A police officer shared this view.
|“Yeah, impairment is, you know, you’ve got to look at a number of things. BAC helps you establish a guideline as to what you’re charging them with: DUI or under the influence, or DWAI, operating while impaired. I’ve seen people at .24 that you’d never guess they were that high. They could walk, talk, function quite well, only because they have built up such a tolerance to alcohol it’s unreal. And I’ve seen other people at .09 that really have problems talking and walking.”|
Similarly, we asked leaders’ views on lowering the legal BAC of motorcycle riders. We heard two main responses: (1) environmental and experiential factors mediate the impairment associated with alcohol so that identifying a consistent impairing BAC for all riders is nearly impossible; and (2) even if it is possible to scientifically identify such a level, it still would not be feasible to implement for legal and political reasons.
Most leaders felt it would not be possible to identify a BAC level at which a rider would be as impaired and as potentially dangerous to himself or others as a car driver is at .08.
|“That’s going to vary from individual to individual.”|
As with riders’ comments, the role of rider experience was also cited.
have too many variables.”
“Experience of riding.”
“Yeah, riding experience is a big one.”
“And that’s what we’re finding more than alcohol or anything else is the riding experience. That’s what causes most of the accidents. Because most motorcyclists, far and wide, are fair-weather riders. They’re not the ones that ride it every day to work or every day to school.”
The Leadership Groups cited legal barriers to enacting differential BAC laws, even if proof was available. These groups also raised issues of credibility and political feasibility and cast doubts on the ultimate benefits of such a measure.
think it’s indefensible legally.”
“I would find that highly discriminatory and offensive.”
“I think as far as changing the blood alcohol to like a .04 versus a .08, I think NHTSA could do the study to prove… I think it could be a controlled study to prove that you have less coordination, or you need more coordination for a bike. I think the bikers themselves, after approaching the helmet issue, would find that that’s being put upon them and singling them out, versus the .08 that it is for car drivers. So I think the .08 should stand; I don’t think that studies would be believable.”
“It doesn’t matter, because no one has a clue… – if they changed it to .05, like people would get really riled up. But I don’t think it would change anyone’s drinking because everyone already doesn’t think they’re drinking to .08 anyway. It’s like, that number doesn’t correspond to anything anyone understands.”
The Leadership Groups provided an opportunity to gauge the reactions of enforcement officials and others to riders’ views on other enforcement issues. Across Rider Groups, we heard two viewpoints about the courts and law enforcement regarding stopping and charging riders: (1) “police and courts don’t care because they figure that this guy is only going to hurt himself and so that will be their penalty”; and (2) “law enforcement and courts have it out for riders, think that they’re bad people because of the stereotype and go out of their way to pick on them.” One law enforcement reaction to these views was:
|“I think they’re both falsehoods. We’re out there to protect these people. So, I don’t go out of my way to pick on motorcycles. …if they’re driving a car or riding a motorcycle, if they’re impaired…they’re getting arrested.”|
Riders reported respect for motorcycle impoundment as a possible consequence of drinking and riding. We asked the Leadership Groups about this issue. It appears that impoundment for alcohol-involved traffic offenses is uncommon in some states and imposed only in the case of felonies.
because it has to be done through a felony. Drunk driving is a misdemeanor,
folks, you can’t seize it.”
“Until you get to a vehicular homicide where somebody’s dead, then it becomes a felony.”
A police official provided a resource-related perspective regarding a need for more detailed data on motorcycle crashes and suggestions for enhancing current motorcycle-related enforcement efforts. Police officials in the Leadership Groups noted that data collection translates into increased workload and strain on staffing resources. In addition, it appears that motorcycle enforcement issues pale in the face of other law enforcement and traffic safety priorities.
don’t have the manpower to do that thorough an investigation.”
“It’s such a small group of people, it doesn’t warrant the bureaucracy.”
“And that’s part of the bigger problem too; motorcycling is such a small subset of the bigger picture.”
The results of the Leadership Groups provided several potentially compatible approaches: (1) victim impact panels, (2) spontaneous classroom vignettes, and (3) social norms models. The following excerpt describes an ongoing program. The Colorado Victim Impact Panels (VIP) is a group of volunteers who speak at training program and other settings on the impacts of DUI offenders on themselves and/or their families.
|“We’ve had guys who were arrested for DUI and convicted of a homicide come in and talk about what it meant to have that incident happen and how it’s affected not only them, but the person they killed and that type of thing. And that seemed to be pretty meaningful.”|
A motorcycle safety instructor described how he employs the VIP approach during his classes by using spontaneous classroom vignettes.
|“I think the best way to get across the message is to have somebody within the group that they’ve been riding with for the whole weekend, learning with for the whole weekend, stand up and tell a personal story about why it sucks. I mean, that’s [why] I invited my class. ‘Has anybody here got a DUI or know somebody close to them who did, or other alcohol-related driving problem and want to tell us about it?’ And you know…in half the classes I teach, somebody actually does have the courage to stand up and explain… I think that’s where the influence occurs.”|
The discussion shifted to social norms models (Perkins et al., 1999; Perkins, 2002), as this dialog excerpt indicates.
used that social norming (sic) model as part of our grant work. And
I’m not sure how that would work with motorcycles. We haven’t done any
specific motorcycle social norming [sic] project, but that might be
something we could take a look at.”
“Oh, you know, I think ____ has a really good point, that there’s so much pressure to drink and to socialize coming at you from every direction, I think it does overpower the other – what did you say?”
“I was saying, that’s what social norming is, trying to change that attitude.”
We discussed the role of various organizations in reducing drinking and riding.
The Leadership Groups described the traditional LEA roles of enforcement, public information, and education. Law enforcement agencies are working with driver education schools and becoming involved in server training. Most ongoing activities tend not to focus upon drinking riders (as opposed to car drivers), except for the NHTSA-developed training cues video. The dialogue excerpt below further illustrates this point.
fact, our SFST [Standard Field Sobriety Testing] training will mention
the new detection clues, or some of the SFST courses mention the new
motorcycle detection clues, driving detection clues that were put out
by NHTSA. And some of them will actually use that video that they came
out with. And that’s the only riding specific education piece that I
can think of that’s used anywhere in the State that’s specific towards
“…you’re talking about educating the officers.”
“Right, that’s law enforcement education, yeah. And I think that’s the only thing that is specific towards motorcycles as far as any type of education.”
At least one Leadership Group member lamented the lack of programs with motorcycle-specific content, even in areas with high levels of motorcycle ridership.
|“They have all kinds of public safety programs, you know, a ticket for no seatbelt use and stuff like that. You really – at least I haven’t seen anything specifically for drinking and riding. They have drinking-and-driving campaigns, but you know, nothing about riding at all really. And with the popularity of motorcycles, especially here with all the rallies and reunions and stuff they have, you know, they probably should stress that more, especially at those times.”|
There was widespread agreement that Rider Groups can play an important role in reducing drinking and riding by changes in club policies and practices.
think they can have an important role, and I think they have been addressing
it in the past in their different clubs and organizations. And again,
that’s why I’m thinking that in many cases, it’s the independent [rider]
that’s having the problems out there, more so than those that are in
“…They have kind of a lock-in, where it’s understood that if they come in there and have something to drink that they don’t leave. They stay in. I think that that’s becoming more the norm. It’s the ones that are hanging out at the corner bars and having picnics or parties or something like that, and it could be young folks that are going to their little rockets and going out and crashing them afterwards.”
One leader noted that not all Rider Groups are necessarily promoting sober riding.
get the [motorcycle rider group] magazine every month, I think it comes
out monthly. And sometimes I have a hard time going through that magazine
and finding a page where there’s nobody drinking a beer. It’s really
hard to find a picture where nobody is drinking. And if you get that
kind of culture being published and disseminated by a large group, it’s
just almost self-fulfilling, I think. You could say, ‘Well, just because
somebody is sitting there drinking beer, does that mean they get on
the motorcycle and ride?’ Well, you figure the probability.”
“…But, on the other hand, I think in groups I hang out with occasionally, I’ve seen over the last 20 years, a much more responsible approach to drinking and riding — planning activities that don’t involve it, and readily accommodating alternatives to alcohol.”
The Leadership Groups suggested that some of the older, traditional motorcycle clubs are moving away from drinking and riding and offered possibilities for peer approaches.
looking at organizations such as the Golden Low-Riders, the HOG riders
groups, and that kind of thing that are more responsible, and they’re
more organized as opposed to some of your small clubs which really aren’t
“Yeah, I think coming full circle again, that’s where maybe the nucleus of that peer pressure might stem from, those organized rider groups who are then becoming ambassadors for messages and self-policing, if you will, on rides, rallies, runs, and otherwise. But they may need the tools to do that, albeit public service or videos…”
“I think it’s… getting to those people through their peers and giving them the right tools to make some sense to those people.”
An interesting suggestion was offered for followup over time with graduates of the program to reinforce the antidrinking and riding message.
|“… follow-up…with the newer riders on their experiences and, to keep that subject fresh in their mind.”|
There was some discussion regarding the failure of motorcycle safety programs to compete successfully with other traffic safety priorities for attention and resources and possible future expansion of mandatory motorcycle safety training.
At least one of the Leadership Groups was highly critical of the way in which State highway safety offices administered Federal funding.
|“And all that DUI money is primarily focused on the automobile drivers.”|
State highway safety programs were also encouraged to promote both impaired rider awareness and detection training among law enforcement personnel.
|“But to maximize law enforcement, if we can make them aware that this is the problem, just as I think the motor vehicle or the car community has, and they have kind of cracked down on that, maybe that would help save lives.”|
At least one group discussed the role of the hospitality industry. Overall, Leadership Group participants agreed with some riders’ perceptions that owners and servers were most interested in sales and tips, respectively, but another perspective emerged.
that gets into a real sticky wicket, because then you’re talking about
“And interference with, you know, people want to drink and now somebody, all of a sudden the cook is the judge, jury, and executioner as to, ‘You’ve had too many.’ It sounds like the Old West to me. So, from that avenue, I couldn’t see any kind of enforcement taking place, because who’s going to do it? But I think that’s where the real public service might come in to play, in restaurants and bars. They have a public service duty, not an enforcement duty” [emphasis added].
Motorcycle manufacturers, dealers, and specialty repair shops were also identified as potential avenues for increasing awareness of drinking-and-riding issues.
|“You know, Kawasaki alone had 1,100 dealers. And when we needed to get information out to owners, that was one way to reach them. And every manufacturer has a warranty registration list as well. So you’re not talking about just reaching the 10 percent; you’re talking about reaching the whole population…”|
Discussions of insurance industry roles centered on increasing awareness and offering of discounts.
they can certainly help with awareness too. I mean, it’s in their best
interest not to have drinking motorcyclists out there.”
“What kind of discounts? … Well, if you’ve got a driver education course, I would think that it should be worth something, and the incentive discount on the amount of training you’ve had.”
Before the close of each Rider Group session, we asked participants to complete an intervention ballot and a countermeasures ballot. The former asked whether certain alternatives to drinking and riding would “work for you” and the latter asked whether certain countermeasures would “make a difference.” The results are displayed in Table 13.
|Intervention – Would it work for you?||Yes [N(%)]||No [N(%)]||Total [N(%)]|
|Take a taxi home?||16 (33.3%)||86 (66.7%)||129 (100%)|
|Sleep it off at a friend’s house or motel/hotel?||101 (78.2%)||28 (22.8%)||129 (100%)|
|Call a friend with a truck or van?||88 (68.2%)||41 (31.8%)||129 (100%)|
|Abstain from drinking?||90 (69.7%)||39 (30.2%)||129 (100%)|
|Avoid riding and drinking in some other way||62 (48.1%)||67 (51.9%)||129 (100%)|
(Describe in a few words.)
Attend Alcohol-Free Events
|23 (37.1%)||14 (22.6%)||6 (9.7%)||4 (6.5%)||15 (24.1%)||62 (100%)|
The recoded results of “Avoid riding and drinking in some other way?” from Table 13 are displayed in Table 14. “Seek other means” included responses such as driving a car, traveling in a friend’s car, and riding with a designated driver. “Limit intake” included responses such as drinking soda, alternating soda and beer, and slowing consumption towards departure time. “Planning” included general suggestions to “plan ahead” and planning to camp-out or sleep at a motel. Miscellaneous responses included “take keys, stay at home,” and other suggestions.
|Intervention – Would it make a difference?||Yes [N(%)]||No [N(%)]||Total [N(%)]|
|Increased fines?||65 (50.4%)||64 (49.6%)||129 (100%)|
|Increased jail time?||80 (62.0%)||49 (38.0%)||129 (100%)|
|Loss of license?||87 (67.4%)||42 (32.6%)||129 (100%)|
|Motorcyle impoundment?||104 (80.4%)||25 (19.5%)||129 (100%)|
|Increased law enforcement?||68 (52.7%)||61 (47.3%)||129 (100%)|
Comparison of the results of these ballots with the focus group results revealed both similarities and discrepancies.
Using a taxi to return home (implying leaving one’s motorcycle behind) was clearly unpopular by a 2:1 margin, whereas “sleep it off” and “call a friend with a truck” (both implying motorcycle security) were clearly popular by nearly 4:1 and over 2:1 margins, respectively. The abstinence responses (over 2:1 in favor) are largely consistent with the stated drinking habits of the group participants.
In the countermeasures ballot, a risk of motorcycle impoundment seemed persuasive to riders, consistent with the focus group discussions. However, the split votes on the fines and law enforcement questions were not consistent with the moderately negative tone of the focus group discussions on these same topics.
As shown in Table 15, 65 percent of riders reported that increased fines and 80 percent of riders reported that increased jail time would influence drinking-and-riding behavior. But, there are discrepancies between these results of the countermeasures ballots and riders’ spoken views during the focus group. During the focus groups, nearly all riders said that increased fines and /or jail time would not influence riders’ behavior, and their body language and their enthusiasm when expressing these views echoed their words. There are three possible explanations for the apparent discrepancy. First, some riders would be more inclined to publicly exhibit their indifference regarding increased jail time and loss of license. Analysis of the transcripts clearly shows that discussion of this topic was dominated by those expressing extreme indifference to these consequences. Second, social desirability bias—a desire and tendency for approval from one’s peers (Crowne & Marlowe, 1964)—could clearly inhibit more concerned riders from expressing their opposing views. Third, it is possible that the focus group comments reflect riders’ views of the effectiveness of these measures for “hard core” drinking riders (not themselves) and that the intervention ballots reflect the participants’ views of these countermeasures for themselves.
1Poker runs typically are club sponsored fundraising events. The proceeds from registration fees, minus event costs, are generally donated to charity.
2Human factors performance research by Moskowitz and others (Moskowitz, Burns, & Williams, 1985; Liguori, D'Agostino, & Dworkin, 1999; Grant, Millar, & Kenny, 2000), demonstrate important cognitive and physiological consequences that can lead to poor driving-related performance, even at low BAC levels.
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