St. Louis, MO
Posted - 02/03/2011 : 1:45 PM
That, my friends is the million dollar question. And that's what led to the Napoleon of Irvine, et al, walking out of the International Motorcycle Safety Conference. You know, the one that M$F put on?
The paper, "Rider Training and Collision Avoidance in Thailand and Los Angeles Motorcycle Crashes" was presented by James V. Ouellet who some may know is a noted motorcycle researcher who worked with Hurt on the famous report and subsequent studies as well as many key studies on his own or with others. I have a copy of that paper right in front of me and here are the key points:
It sounds innocuous enough and begins that way as well. It talks about "collision avoidance" meaning, for many, "skilled braking and swerving after something has gone wrong." This, as we all know, is something M$F has emphasized ever since the MRC: RSS came outand something they say the BRC does well. In many ways, it's the raison detre of training itself or so they've told us.
Ouellet first raises the question whether "emergency collision avoidance actions really prevent crashes?" And he says that may be impossible to ever answer since there's no reliable way to analyze avoided collisions. Then he asks, "Does rider training to develop collision avoidance skills actually prevent crashes? Fortunately, this question is easier to answer." Then he does quite conclusively and dramatically.
Remember when. Tim said at the Murkowski hearing that rider training didn't make a difference after six months? Be careful what you wish for, Tim! It turns out, according to Ouellet's research you exaggerated by six months sort of.
By extensive analysis of the underlying data of the Hurt Report and the much more recent Thailand accident causation study, the answer is: No. Not at all.
For those who like entries short and sweet without any support for claims, here it is in a nutshell: Ouellet found that even the most highly trained riders of all law enforcement motorcycle officers weren't any better in choosing the proper evasive action than those who taught themselves or to execute it properly or to do both correctly.
And, he says, this is a function of time there's just not enough time left to make evasive action a real option in most crashes from the time it's precipitated to the collision itself.
"Whatever the reason," he writes, "it appears that if riders with formal training are less likely to be involved in a crash, it must be due to something other than highly skilled emergency collision avoidance."
And that, he suggests, is "by focusing on preventing the precipitating event instead of trying to react effectively after it has already occurred." In an interview with him, Ouellet said the best thing to do was for rider training to focus on teaching traffic strategies. Things like lane position strategies, better hazard awareness perception, techniques for alerting driver's of one's presence, etc. are the way to go.
But, when it comes to braking and swerving skills and actual crashes, they aren't worth squat. Well, he didn't put it that way...
So it's understandable that, at the end of the paper, there was a deep, complete silence in the room. Whoa, Nellie everything we've worked on is in vain. Well, not everyone the folks at Monash University have been saying that for years, as has driver reaction research.
According to an eyewitness, Tim leaned forward with a look on his face of "now what do we do?" He took a deep breath and said something that sounded like "oh, s**t". All the MIC/M$F and manufacturer's reps looked at one another with that same sort of expression, then got up and left even though there were other papers still to present in the session.
Let this be a lesson to you, Tim have someone read the papers before they are accepted.
Now, for those who like some support for what sounds like outrageous claims before they make a judgment, read the next entry.