In October 2014 at a gathering in New York on highway safety, a researcher from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) presented preliminary results from the naturalistic riding study that is currently underway at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). The study is a coordinated effort with MSF and VTTI. The data collected thus far is not being formally published yet as it is too early for researchers to reach final conclusions from it. But there are some general points emerging thus far. The purpose of the study is intended to help researchers understand “the role of human factors in traffic safety outcomes.” In other words, it is an effort to identify how riders can manage their rides more safely and avoid bike crashes and fatalities. We have been sharing information about this study that has been underway for the past couple of years in four locations around the country. These include riders in Irvine, California riding year round; those in Orlando, Florida riding in similar conditions; riders in Blacksburg, Virginia with lots of two-lane roads and hills; and, those in Phoenix, Arizona where there are many sports bikes and no helmet laws.
The intention of this study has been to collect riding data in a natural way using video and other technologies that will pin-point what specific factors are involved in motorcycle crashes and near-crashes. Although the data is still being collected and analyzed, there are some early patterns emerging based on what has been collected thus far. The collected data is based on over 350,000 miles of riding so far. Riders of all ages are part of this study. All types of riding is also part of this study — subjects were not only those riding during leisure time, but those who use their bikes to get to work. It also includes those who wear protective gear and those who do not.
Although the information researchers are sharing at this point is early and raw, one thing is certain: riders have choices and these choices matter. The sensors and tech that is involved will reveal more detail that can be used by riders to avoid motorcycle crashes. Factors such as where a rider is looking when traveling through an intersection will lead to better training and more clear suggestions as to the safest way to handle an intersection turn. Decisions about helmet use and clothing type will also play a part in the ultimate suggestions that emerge from the study, since participants are asked to provide detailed information about clothing. Decisions regarding things like the use of leather, jackets with zippers, long or short sleeves, all of which is being studied to determine what could be important in the event of a bike crash.
This study is intended to give riders as much information as possible about how they can be safer when they ride. The study also has an interesting aspect to it that no other study has attempted to research: what are the factors that go into making rides uneventful. What is happening on those uneventful rides in which there is no crash or near-crash event. This is a “baseline” that is crucial for the complete analysis of data recovered from participants. Researchers will then be able to compare the data from uneventful rides, with eventful ones. All riders will benefit from this effort.
We will keep readers posted on the further release of information from this study. In the meanwhile, if you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, help is here. The Scholle Law team will give you a free assessment and can advise you about your legal rights. We have helped many motorcycle accident victims and we are here to help you manage your recovery and get back on your bike.