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 Rider Training Courses
 Can the Effectiveness of Training Be Measured?
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DataDan
Advanced Member
540 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 01/19/2010 :  11:15 AM                       Like       
I can say unequivocally that education has made me a safer motorcyclist. Over the past 30 years, I've taken the MSF ERC and track courses several times each, I've read many books and countless magazine and web articles on riding technique (including those on this site--thanks, Mr. Davis), and I've developed techniques based on my own experience and research. How do I know I'm safer than I was when I started out? My crash history is too thin to provide an answer, but one way to judge is unmistakable, though subjective. In my early years I often experienced moments of panic on the road, and I returned from a ride physically and mentally drained. I even remember once waking startled from a dreamlet about a car suddenly pulling out in front of me. Today, in spite of bigger motorcycles, higher speeds, longer distances, and more challenging roads, a ride is a welcome break from real life, from which I return refreshed and ready to refocus. But while I can evaluate my own education, evaluating a formal training course isn't so easy.

The training effectiveness paradox

A recent Moonrider blog post (linked by gymnast--thanks!) summarized a report recommending motorcycling safety measures [800KB PDF] for the Australian Capital Territory (their District of Columbia). The researchers concluded that few studies had demonstrated a reduced crash rate with training, and some actually increased it. To those familiar with such evaluations, this was no surprise. In a 1997 Motorcycle Consumer News article, "Why Rider Education Can't Prove That It Works", Peter Fassnacht of MSF described similar results. And a 2003 Swedish meta-analysis [1200KB PDF--only summary is in English] of training program assessments (an aggregation of data from several independent studies) concluded: "There is no evidence to show that voluntary motorcycle training programs, meaning programs completed voluntarily by riders who possess a riders' licence, reduces crash risk. On the contrary, such programs seem to increase the crash risk. ...On the other hand, compulsory training through licensing programs seem to result in a weak, but consistent reduction of crashes."

Those who see MSF as the Great Satan would attribute these results to poor curriculum, pared down over the years and focused increasingly on putting fannies on motorcycles rather than developing safer riders. But the studies covered more than US training; Europe, Australia, and New Zealand were also included. Indeed, the apparent ineffectiveness of training extends far beyond our unloved provider.

What is being measured?

Dissonance between personal belief in the benefits of training and lack of confirmation in studies of post-training crash rates raises a difficult question: Does crash risk really measure the effectiveness of rider training?

A few years ago I decided to teach myself Photoshop. I bought the software and a tutorial, and I jumped in. Going through selected lessons (covering just a few of the product's extraordinary capabilities), I finished "formal" training to my satisfaction in a few weeks. But learning continued as I worked on my own projects, and for months I made frequent mistakes while trying to master techniques introduced in the lessons and picking up new ones as need arose. If the effectiveness of my self-education were being evaluated solely by counting goofs, I had gotten nowhere. But by my own reckoning, it was a success: I had learned what I wanted to learn.

Since my post-training application of Photoshop wasn't a prescribed set of tasks, but whatever I found interesting and doable, my error rate had little to do with training effectiveness. It was more a measure of how ambitious I was in putting to use the techniques I had learned. The more tweaks I wanted to apply to a photo, the more mistakes I made. If I had not done the tutorial and just stumbled along, I would have been doing more basic tasks and making more basic errors, but not a greater number of them.

In motorcycle training, too, post-training activity is totally up to the individual--a trainee attempts rides that seem interesting and doable. A more ambitious rider will try to progress faster, pushing harder on the limits of his skills, and accept higher crash risk. A more cautious rider will progress more slowly, staying closer to his limits, and keep crash risk down. But a poorly trained rider will not necessarily be at greater risk than a well-trained one. Rather, his abilities and perception of riding risk will limit when, where, and how he can ride while staying within his tolerance for risk.

Can effectiveness be measured?

If crash rate doesn't reflect training quality, how might the value of different rider education programs be compared? In my view, the potential for such assessments is very limited. A standardized, closed-course skill test administered by a third party could determine whether students who passed a class had acquired a specified set of bike-handling skills, and simulator testing might be used to assess how well traffic strategies were taught. But any comparison based on independent on-road riding introduces variables that overshadow differences in training.

What do you think?

gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 01/19/2010 :  11:46 AM
Simply, I think the research design must take into account the variables to be measured. If the efficacy of any educational or training treatment can be measured, then the effect of rider training can be measured. If training programs or training program components were designed for very specifically identified purposes, it would facilitate the measurement of the effectiveness of the treatment as well as the comparative effectiveness of various treatments if so desired. It is possible that the effectiveness of current training programs is being measured as accurately as the rudimentary nature and content composition of the current training programs allow.
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Axiom2000
Male Moderator
1761 Posts
[Mentor]


Georgetown, Delaware
USA

BMW

F 800 GT

Posted - 01/19/2010 :  3:01 PM
It seems as if there has been a fair number of creditable research efforts to determine what effect training may have on crash rates. I don't believe any of the research has ever proven anything definitive one way or the other. My sense is the number of variables that would impact the results are many and are always going to leave room in the results for speculation depending on the readers point of view or their desire for a certain result.

Like most who think about these things all I have to base any opinion on is intuition, but that intuition is at least based on reading the research and from years of being involved in riding and heavy involvement with rider training. None of that however, makes my speculation any more valid than anyone elses

That intuition tells me that training may have a positive impact in the short run for a new rider vs. a new rider who is self taught or taught by the obligatory friend or family member. In other words I think if you took two brand new riders with the same natural ability and attitude the one who graduated from a BRC after 15 hours of training would be less likely to be involved in a crash within the first few months. After that it seems all bets are off and here is where all those variables would come into play. Which one of the two rides the most, which one spends time on PLP and so many more?

The one thing missing from all of these studies and why I believe they are not producing satisfactory meaningful results is none of them measures the riders attitude about how they approach motorcycling. All the training in the world is not going to reduce the chances of a crash for riders who approach motorcycling in an immature irresponsible manner. I would tend to believe that good training retaken at regular intervals coupled with the right attitude about riding would have a positive effect on crashes. On the other hand your not going to fix stupid with any amount of training.
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DataDan
Advanced Member
540 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 01/19/2010 :  9:24 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Axiom2000

That intuition tells me that training may have a positive impact in the short run for a new rider vs. a new rider who is self taught or taught by the obligatory friend or family member. In other words I think if you took two brand new riders with the same natural ability and attitude the one who graduated from a BRC after 15 hours of training would be less likely to be involved in a crash within the first few months. After that it seems all bets are off and here is where all those variables would come into play. Which one of the two rides the most, which one spends time on PLP and so many more?

That's exactly what the California Program Evaluation found. When comparing trained vs. untrained riders in a group that included only people with <= 500 miles of riding prior to the experiment, the trained riders did a LOT better in the first 6 months. Just the basics of learning to brake and steer can prevent many raw noob crashes.

quote:
The one thing missing from all of these studies and why I believe they are not producing satisfactory meaningful results is none of them measures the riders attitude about how they approach motorcycling. All the training in the world is not going to reduce the chances of a crash for riders who approach motorcycling in an immature irresponsible manner. I would tend to believe that good training retaken at regular intervals coupled with the right attitude about riding would have a positive effect on crashes. On the other hand your not going to fix stupid with any amount of training.
That's a key factor affecting the way newly trained motorcyclists ride and, thus, their crash risk and any evaluation of the training curriculum.

My point is that no matter how well or poorly a rider was trained, one who is aggressive will stretch the limits of that training and be more likely to crash. And a more cautious person will stay within the limits of his skills, again whether well or poorly trained, and be less likely to crash. Thus the collective crash record of trainees says more about the personalities in the group than the quality of the training.
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 01/19/2010 :  9:51 PM
Here's a quick "intro" into one avenue of psycho-metrics that may have some promise. In addition, Eysenck Scale scores have been used in numerous studies as a predictive instrument in research regarding both intentional and unintentional traumatic injury.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&...232&ie=UTF-8

This leads in some interesting direction as well http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Sensa...n-a021024320

Edited by - gymnast on 01/20/2010 3:30 PM
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Axiom2000
Male Moderator
1761 Posts
[Mentor]


Georgetown, Delaware
USA

BMW

F 800 GT

Posted - 01/20/2010 :  4:21 AM
quote:
That's a key factor affecting the way newly trained motorcyclists ride and, thus, their crash risk and any evaluation of the training curriculum.

My point is that no matter how well or poorly a rider was trained, one who is aggressive will stretch the limits of that training and be more likely to crash. And a more cautious person will stay within the limits of his skills, again whether well or poorly trained, and be less likely to crash. Thus the collective crash record of trainees says more about the personalities in the group than the quality of the training.






Here's a quick "intro" into one avenue of psycho-metrics that may have some promise. In addition, Eysenck Scale scores have been used in numerous studies as a predictive instrument in research regarding both intentional and unintentional traumatic injury.



Data Dan,
We are on the same page with this one and saying the same thing, you just stated it better than I did, thanks.


Gymnast,
Did you mean to include a link?

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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 01/20/2010 :  9:44 AM
Axiom, yep, thanks, edited.
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SkootchNC
Male Advanced Member
1063 Posts
[Mentor]


raleigh, north carolina
USA

Harley-Davidson

road glide

Posted - 01/20/2010 :  10:35 AM
An observation......

I've heard, and read people state, they took/were going to take the MSF-BRC, or Rider's Edge because the person felt either class was "easier" than the DMV skills test.

If people are seeking the path of least resistance to gain a license, is it any wonder, those same riders are having more wrecks?



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Scooter rider
Male Junior Member
74 Posts


Fletcher, Ohio
USA

Kymco

Posted - 01/24/2010 :  1:33 AM
I dont think folks are looking for the easiest way out
Here in Ohio the DMV uses the ALT- MOST

The easiest way would be to down load the lay out go to a parking lot mark it out and ride it.

When you can wobble it out close enough you go down to the DMV squeak past the test and your on you way.

Its scary how many people do this only because they dont want to wait for a class or shell out a whole twenty five buck to pay for it. Yes thats all it cost here.

Heck with just a learner permit for a year you can ride any bike you can throw your leg over as long as. You wear a helmet no two up riding or night riding.

The MSF BRC my not be the best but it beats the heck out of the above
The sad part is they are really the only game in town here.
So I dont think the waver is that big of a selling point or at lest not in Ohio.

But to the topic at hand how do you measure how long the training sticks?
Some may have had training years ago and over time have dropped back to old bad habits.



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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 01/24/2010 :  8:57 AM
Factor analysis is a useful technique when one has a problem that requires the analysis of a data set that may contain a hundred or more variables. Multiple-linear regression techniques may then be further applied to the derived factors in order to determine the efficacy of various experimental treatments. Here is a link that details the use of factor analysis as an analytic technique.

http://books.google.com/books?id=g_...tion&f=false
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DataDan
Advanced Member
540 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 07/15/2010 :  12:02 PM
Bumped for relevance to a current discussion on training effectiveness.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 07/15/2010 :  2:17 PM
quote:
Originally posted by DataDan

My point is that no matter how well or poorly a rider was trained, one who is aggressive will stretch the limits of that training and be more likely to crash. And a more cautious person will stay within the limits of his skills, again whether well or poorly trained, and be less likely to crash. Thus the collective crash record of trainees says more about the personalities in the group than the quality of the training.
I agree 100% with your point. And further, since crash rates do not reflect on training quality, that it is not possible to objectively and effectively compare the value of different rider programs as crash countermeasures. I say it all comes back to attitude and behavior.
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 07/15/2010 :  5:39 PM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

quote:
Originally posted by DataDan

My point is that no matter how well or poorly a rider was trained, one who is aggressive will stretch the limits of that training and be more likely to crash. And a more cautious person will stay within the limits of his skills, again whether well or poorly trained, and be less likely to crash. Thus the collective crash record of trainees says more about the personalities in the group than the quality of the training.
I agree 100% with your point. And further, since crash rates do not reflect on training quality, that it is not possible to objectively and effectively compare the value of different rider programs as crash countermeasures. I say it all comes back to attitude and behavior.




I agree with both of the above comments and would like to add that those personalities/individuals that are attracted to motorcycling are not clustered about the median of a bell curve or are they similar to the personalities/individuals attracted to golf (though some people do both). Those that self select the activity of motorcycling tend to be of a personality that that natural selection, in combination with the activity of motorcycling, does not favor. Dr Duane Johnson's Doctoral Dissertation relating to personality and motorcycle crashes indicated this more than 40 years ago.

Edited by - gymnast on 07/15/2010 5:57 PM
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  11:37 AM
It occurs to me that rider training providers, and MSF in particular, have little to gain by attempting to measure and prove the effectiveness of their programs. To what end? After 37 years and with 400,000 students enrolling annually in their courses, MSF has done quite nicely without being required to measure or prove a thing.

Might proof of program efficacy allow MSF to become the preeminent provider of rider training in the USA? Not necessary.

Might proof of program efficacy allow MSF to become the provider of rider training for the US Dept of Defense? Not necessary.

Might proof of program efficacy allow MSF to become a respected voice in International motorcycle safety forums? Not necessary.

I am not bashing MSF. I am simply illustrating the fact that gauging the effectiveness of program training isn't necessary to be successful in the rider training business. So why bother?
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  11:52 AM
Hmmm. Coca Cola with it's original ingredients started out as a "refreshing health tonic". It's economic success as a company since is based upon advertising programs and the low cost of ingredients and very high markups. The benefits of people drinking Coca Cola have been primarily among those associated with the dental profession. Coca Cola is a good cheap chrome cleaner in a pinch and it mixes well with rum.

Is this not a great country or what?
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Robus
Male Senior Member
293 Posts


Chicago, IL
USA

BMW

R1200RT, HD FLTRU

Posted - 10/09/2010 :  1:42 AM
I understood DataDan's hypothesis to be along the lines of that saying: People will rise to the level of their incompetence. In other words, the more confident you are in your training, the more likely you are to attempt things that are beyond your training.

Examples of that abound. Just look at the 20-something sport bike set. They measure their skill as motorcyclists according to how small the "chicken strip" of unworn rubber on the outer edges of their tread. Yet they crash all the time.

Here's my hypothesis: Most training courses are set up to teach riders how to handle the motorcycle better, but not necessarily how to avoid crashing. The two goals are not incompatible, but they are not the same. A certain level of competence in handling the bike is essential. But once you've attained that competence, will a course that teaches you how to cut a cleaner line through a series of curves make you a safer rider?

For a street rider who has achieved an adequate level of competence handling the machine, the skills that might really reduce accident risk are hard to teach in a weekend course. Skills like reading the flow of traffic around you, anticipating traps and nasty surprises, searching your environment for hidden threats, riding with an eye to the worst-case scenario and positioning yourself to deal with it before it happens, recognizing your own fallibility and leaving a margin for error.

Courses teach skills. But how effectively can they teach attitudes, judgment, dispositions, and mental discipline?

Edited by - Robus on 10/09/2010 1:52 AM
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2263 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 10/09/2010 :  3:24 AM
Personal risk tolerance is a variable so I'm not sure how that is measured. If it counts against training success and that training is not geared toward personal risk tolerance, something is wrong or the deck is stacked as they say.
I've heard that young brains are not fully developed and much of that topic centered around the operation of motor vehicles and (I assume) the understanding and implications of that responsibility.

To say that I lacked wisdom at the age of 18 or even 22 years old is like saying by then, I had all the fire under the *ss of the human experience necessary.
I didn't then and maybe it's too late. I'm not looking for it now.

I've seen helmeted skiers taking more risks. ABS brake systems and even air bags on cars caused drivers to push the limits. I'll bet seat belts did the same in the late 1960's too.
For all the training and technology out there, I believe effectiveness can be tracked but those benefits can so easily be thwarted and undermined by individuals, tracking it to take out those variables is likely very difficult.
Maybe it's better to go at it from the angle of just those stats calling effectiveness into question. Is it possible to provide data showing a tangent due to a variation of specific behaviors (contrary to training) in that group?

~brian
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 10/09/2010 :  10:23 AM
All scientific researh begins with the the formulation of an appropriate research question. It is from this question and the particular nature of the question that all subsequent activities are derived. Valid research is usually conducted by well qualified persons who are experts in the field of interest. These experts usually prepare themselves for a specific project by conducting an extensive search of the literature pertenent to the area of concern prior to the development of the research question.

The task of proving that a specific event does not happen (a crash) as a result of an element of a training program or an education treatment is virtually impossible. However, if a set of behavioral conditions and outcomes is specified in a defined set of circumstances it is possible, using appropriate methods, to measure (and even compare)the outcomes of specific regimens intended to inculcate specific behaviors.



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DataDan
Advanced Member
540 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 10/09/2010 :  11:30 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Robus

I understood DataDan's hypothesis to be along the lines of that saying: People will rise to the level of their incompetence. In other words, the more confident you are in your training, the more likely you are to attempt things that are beyond your training.

Examples of that abound. Just look at the 20-something sport bike set. They measure their skill as motorcyclists according to how small the "chicken strip" of unworn rubber on the outer edges of their tread. Yet they crash all the time.
I agree, but I'd be a bit less judgmental .

We ride because we want to go places and do things on a motorcycle. If we're reasonably confident that our skills will support what we'd like to do, we'll give it a try. It could be some dope on a Gixxer trying to drag his knee around a turn on his favorite mountain road. But it could also be a noob Harley rider who wants to make his first trip to Daytona Beach, or an inexperienced Wing rider itching to take the treacherous road from the valley to the coast that offers a breathtaking view of the ocean. All are stretching the limits of their training and skill.

quote:
Courses teach skills. But how effectively can they teach attitudes, judgment, dispositions, and mental discipline?
And that's the Big Question: How are those modes of thinking developed? Experienced riders come around to them, but can experience be distilled in a way that speeds up the process?
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Robsalvv
Male Standard Member
204 Posts


Melbourne, Vic
Australia

Kawasaki

ZX9R

Posted - 04/20/2012 :  2:36 AM
quote:
Originally posted by DataDan
quote:
Courses teach skills. But how effectively can they teach attitudes, judgment, dispositions, and mental discipline?
And that's the Big Question: How are those modes of thinking developed? Experienced riders come around to them, but can experience be distilled in a way that speeds up the process?



!! Thread revival!!

Having recently become a Ridecraft coach, which is an Australian roadcraft program along similar lines to the UK's RoSPA or the UK's IAM's advanced on road rider training programs, this question is exercising my mind!

So far, the only lever I've developed some insight into is coaching the rider through guided questioning to arrive at their own conclusions about their riding and riding attitudes. Pontificating from an authoritative position of a coach does very little but put up learning road blocks! The approach however requires a great rapport and a rational rider willing to entertain reason and genuine self examination.

The ridecraft structure is somewhat open ended as it's not constrained to a weekend course and not focussed solely on bike handling skills so it quite possibly should lead to measurable and better outcome. Time will tell!

In the mean time, Data Dan, have you had any epiphanies regarding your own questions??
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 04/20/2012 :  6:22 AM
quote:
The ridecraft structure is somewhat open ended as it's not constrained to a weekend course...
Conjures up the image of a mentoring program, in my mind.

One of the common critiques of many training courses is their limited duration. This (ridecraft) sounds as if it attempts to provide an answer to that (perceived) flaw. I personally don't believe that in a couple of days a great impact can be had on a predisposed mindset when you have a dozen or so students, a ton of material, and only a couple of coaches.

However, I do believe that over time it would be possible to have an impact.

Cheers Robsalvv, can you flesh out how it is structured?
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