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Motorcycle Crash Causation Study

Washington Update—It was recently announced, and reported by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), that the federal government is proceeding with the motorcycle crash causation study. This is news for a number of reasons, as the study has been on virtual life support for the past few years.
A Quick Background on the Study:
Originally mandated and partially funded by the SAFETEA-LU legislation passed in 2005, the original concept of the study was to mimic the European Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study (MAIDS), using the same OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) methodology that the Europeans used. Utilizing that methodology, the study was supposed to investigate 1200 motorcycle crashes and collect 1500 data points on each crash.
Unfortunately, the funding formula of the bill was changed at the last minute leaving a $3 million dollar shortfall for the study. Then came the realization that the estimated $6 million price tag for the study was significantly lower than real world costs, estimated to more likely be in the $9 million range. The federal government’s share totaled $3 million and the motorcycle industry pledged $3 million, leaving an additional $3 million unfunded. A cry for help went out to the states to help offset the shortfall and a few responded, contributing about $600 thousand.
It seemed that the only way to get this study underway was to reduce the sample pool from 1200 to around 900. However, chopping the sample size by 25% seriously reduces the validity, sturdiness and scientific merit of the study. When the Feds announced that they must reduce the sample size, private support for funding the study fell dramatically. A motorcycle industry insider said it best, “We (the motorcycle industry) do have $3 million for a good study, but not a dollar for a bad one.”
At a recent quarterly meeting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) disclosed their only option, besides canceling the study altogether. They have decided to fund the study fully in house, taking the $650 thousand from the states and another $500 grand from the NHTSA coffers. So what we are left with is a sample size of 300, with a price tag of just over $3 million. It’s disappointing that they have chosen this route. What started off as a possible landmark safety study will now be, without question, scientifically invalid and is not likely to be helpful for the motorcyclists of America.
As always, the MRF will keep you updated on this and all other issues happening in Washington DC.

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Updated: 5/7/09 12:00 AM