MSF Prez Calls for Motorcycle "Safety Renewal"

Research doesn't show much benefit from the current rider-education approach that emphasizes just initial motorcycle-rider training. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation thinks that the second or third time is the charm.

In an address to the the Fifth International Motorcycle Conference, the President of the American Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Tim Buche called for a "safety renewal" program, which essentially would involve ongoing rider training with a variety or courses to fit the rider's needs and abilities.

During his presentation to the Conference, held in Munich, Germany in conjunction with the Intermot Show, Buche addressed the fact that most research has shown little benefit from the current U.S. rider-training formula, which essentially calls for a single, basic training course. Although such training, which in mandatory in some states for younger riders, appears to have an initial benefit lasting perhaps six months for new riders, it doesn't have any measurable benefits in longer terms. Buche announced new research that looks at more parameters (which, of course, Buche expects to reveal some unrecognized benefits) and to focus in particular on repetitive training, where a rider would follow up his initial training with additional courses tailored for those with more experience and skills.

To be called the MSF RETS (Rider Education Training System) Discovery Project and conducted in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the new study will track three groups of riders—those without training, those with just introductory training, and those who participate in ongoing training—to look for benefits from the increased training.

While we do tend to believe that follow-up training is a good idea (we usually advise new riders to take the basic course and then an experienced course six to twelve months later), we do wonder about the study methodology. Besides being conducted by organizations that have considerable stakes in the rider-training business, a possible flaw in the study is the fact that those riders who participate in multiple rider-training points are those who put the most thought and effort into riding safely and might be involved in fewer of the incidents—accident, near-misses, and traffic citations—that gauge a rider's level of safety.

The MSF news release about the presentation notes that a possible federal motorcycle-safety study might also shed light on the topic.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation wants motorcyclists to get back to school on a regular basis. (Photo courtesy Moto Guzzi.)