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 Motorcycle Safety
 Rider Training Courses
 MSF admits that the BRC does NOT reduce accidents
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17322 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 12/15/2013 :  10:24 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend                        Like
In a conversation I had with Steven Guderian, owner of a firm known as "Motorcycle Safety Consulting", I was told the following:

quote:
At the International Motorcycle Safety Conference in Orlando this year the MSF announced changes to their BRC, focusing more on attitude and they came out and said that basic rider training does not result in rider crash reductions. All previous studies had said this, MSF finally joined in.


He also said that the MSF got an NHTSA grant 10 years ago to look at this but have been sitting on their final report.

I have reason to believe what Mr. Guderian has said and wonder if any of you have more specifics about that MSF admission you'd care to share with others here.

Note that this is not an indictment of the BRC's efficacy in training new riders the fundamental skills needed to ride a motorcycle. Rather, it is a challenge of the oft quoted rationale for having students attend that class - To make them safer riders - and it suggests that insurance companies which provide a discount for BRC attendance may soon quit doing so - for lack of demonstrable benefit. And it brings into question the rationale for requiring a successful BRC completion in order to receive a motorcycle endorsement on driver's licenses in some states.

scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6914 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, ID
USA

Honda

XR650L, 1090 Adv R

Posted - 12/15/2013 :  2:48 PM
That is interesting. I'm wondering if taking the ERC, or whatever they call it now, helps to reduce accidents.

Which states require BRC completion to get a motorcycle endorsement?

I know that California will let you skip the riding portion of the motorcycle license test if you take the BRC, but passing the BRC is likely to require more skills than that test. You don't have to take the BRC, though, if you can negotiate that 20-foot circle successfully.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2083 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 12/15/2013 :  9:00 PM
NY recommends but does not require the BRC

quote:
?The DMV recommends that you consider the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Course. The course offers classroom instruction in addition to instruction on a motorcycle on a closed course. The MSF provides a motorcycle and helmet during the course. If you complete the MSF course, your motorcycle road test will be waived. If you cannot take the MSF course, the DMV recommends that you take instruction from a commercial driving school.


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rkfire
Advanced Member
1713 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 12/15/2013 :  9:11 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Started the beginning of this year, CT requires MSF as the sole means to get an endorsement.
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AMJIce
Male Standard Member
124 Posts


Laguna Hills, CA
USA

Suzuki

DL650K9

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  12:20 AM
I had a decade-and-a-half gap between successful completion of the MSF's beginning rider's course (I received California's M1 endorsement within two weeks after that) and my first motorcycle purchase. Things that I remembered even way back when:

  • countersteering

  • "passing this course means you are qualified to drive in ... a parking lot"

  • wear as much protective gear as possible

  • where your eyes are, your bike will follow


I practiced for about 48-55 nights after first taking the bike home doing PLP (thanks, MSGroup!) and riding short segments of the freeway - exiting/entering, merging, etc. - before I started commuting exclusively on my bike.

The riding portion of the MSF, and the "final" practical to receive the certificate to take to the DMV to receive the motorcycle endorsement, was more riding skills-applicable than going around a circle required during the DMV riding test.

It would be unfortunate if the incentives - waiver of the DMV riding test or insurance discounts - were to be eliminated. I think that, like any established standards program, whether they be borne of the private-sector or the government, provides for the minimum of tools or skills-set for the beginning rider. Ultimately, cultivating and expanding that toolbox is still up to the individual rider and their level of dedication to their craft/hobby.

I'd be curious to see what the contents of that report says ... and wonder if the lack of safety improvement was a reflection of the culture of lack of delayed gratification; as in, "I got my endorsement, I am an expert."
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Axiom2000
Male Moderator
1761 Posts
[Mentor]


Georgetown, Delaware
USA

BMW

F 800 GT

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  3:20 AM
I have never believed the BRC had any impact on reducing morotcycle crashes. Perhaps its graduates are better off than a non BRC taker in the first few months of street riding, but I am not sure how to prove or disprove that.

I have always thought the BRC was a learn to ride class, aimed at teacing a new rider the basics of operating a motorcycle. Sure we cover some information that would be considered critical for any one who rides on the street, but at the end of the day it's about teaching somone with no skills how to make it move, turn and stop in a safe manner. Beyond that it's up to the individual to augment and improve those skills to the point of being a safe street rider.
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1484 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  7:48 AM
I learned how to brake and always to wear gloves the hard way. I would have benefited from taking the class. My back yard tree wouldn't have had my skin in it and I wouldn't have vaulted over the bars when I hit the car in front of me. Since the car wasn't damaged and I fixed the bent forks and torn front tire valve stem myself, my early riding would not have shown up in statistics. Statistics only go so far. I highly doubt if I was the only new rider who did something the BRC would have helped me avoid yet didn't show up in the statistics.
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  9:24 AM
A few questions that I have thought about for over 40 years are:

Does the availability of subsidized motorcycle rider training programs promoted by the MSF enable persons whom might not otherwise do so, become involved in the high risk activity of motorcycle riding. If so, what is the cost benefit to the individual as compared to the industry?

The above questions are similar to my hypothesis that the near universal availability of motorcycles with electric starters has enabled persons, whom would not otherwise do so, to become motorcycle riders.

The above questions relate to previous barriers to entry that may have prevented significant numbers of persons from engaging in the activity thus limiting the size of risk pool exposed to crashes, injuries, and death.
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DataDan
Advanced Member
563 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  4:37 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gymnast

A few questions that I have thought about for over 40 years are:

Excellent questions. I think about them, too, though it took me a lot longer to understand their importance.

quote:
Does the availability of subsidized motorcycle rider training programs promoted by the MSF enable persons whom might not otherwise do so, become involved in the high risk activity of motorcycle riding. If so, what is the cost benefit to the individual as compared to the industry?
First, a quantitative answer, though it's probably not very interesting due to confounders.

The California Motorcyclist Safety Program was launched in 1986. I don't remember all the details, but ISTR that the BRC was subsidized for young riders from the beginning. That year was just past the peak of the 1980s motorcycling boom, with registrations down only slightly from the then all-time high. After 1986, California registrations plunged by more than 40% to a low in 1998 that hadn't been seen since 1968. So in California, the availability of subsidized training did not seem to benefit the industry.

The confounder I mentioned is the coming-of-age of the trailing edge of the baby boom. Then in their mid-20s, it was time to get serious about life, which did not include a motorcycle (I was more on the leading edge and went through the same thing in the 1970s). So the decline in motorcycling--also a nationwide phenomenon--was probably not related to CMSP.

A second and more interesting aspect of your question is whether inexpensive training is roping in a generally risk-averse group by leading them to believe that training substantially reduces the risk that most non-motorcyclists perceive. My opinion is that the perception of reduced risk--promoted more by motorcycling culture than by the training establishment--does tend to bring in new riders who are subjecting themselves to more than they know. Subsidy or no, SOME noobs are biting off more than they can chew.

quote:
The above questions are similar to my hypothesis that the near universal availability of motorcycles with electric starters has enabled persons, whom would not otherwise do so, to become motorcycle riders.

The above questions relate to previous barriers to entry that may have prevented significant numbers of persons from engaging in the activity thus limiting the size of risk pool exposed to crashes, injuries, and death.
Don't forget the development of street-riding protective clothing over the past 30 years as another moderating element that eases entry for the risk-averse. That's not a problem if its value is accurately perceived. Only when its benefits are oversold is a new rider being deceived into taking on unexpected risk.

Edited by - DataDan on 12/17/2013 4:43 PM
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 12/17/2013 :  7:38 PM
The first time that the MSF attempted to set up a statewide training program in Californiawas about 1974 or 75 and there was a full time MSF staff member leading the effort to secure training sights and develop an instructor training program. For a number of reasons that effort failed to be successful. It was not until after the MSF moved it's offices from Linthicum Maryland to Southern California that training in California began to take hold.

The Illinois Programs which had their roots in the late 1960s University Traffic Safety Centers at Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. These programs "predated" the MSF through the early 1970s. Those programs, with MSF involvement at the state level, have been running continuously ever since with Illinois State University assuming a prominent role as well.

Your comments regarding the perceptions of the efficacy of protective gear by perspective and new riders and passengers is an additional enabling factor that has encouraged persons, that otherwise might not have, to engage in motorcycle activities are valid as well.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1713 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 12/20/2013 :  8:54 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I can't help but think, if their rider training doesn't reduce crashes, then why bother?
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17322 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 12/20/2013 :  9:13 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Their training provides a relatively safe and controlled environment to learn the fundamentals of how to operate a motorcycle using a proven curriculum, well maintained motorcycles, and competent instructors.

It may not result in less accidents following their training, but it CERTAINLY reduces accidents DURING training.
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MasterGuns
Male Starting Member
1 Posts


Van Alstyne, TX
USA

Triumph

Bonneville

Posted - 12/21/2013 :  10:42 PM
The idea that a basic course (covering the essential elements of awareness and physical skills to operate a motorcycle) could reduce the amount of crashes appears to be a wishful outcome, but not grounded in reality.

There are too many variables with beginning riders (e.g., attitude, maturity, type of bike ridden, etc.) to correlate basic training to crashes.

Conversely, it's doubtful (due to the difficulty of gathering this data) that anyone has measured the actual benefits of this basic training where situational awareness were gained and skills were gained to avoid crashes.

This is my first post to this forum so forgive me for my outspokenness, but two things appear clear to me:

1. The expectation that teaching someone the mechanics of riding a motorcycle, even with the awareness and mental attitude portion, can reduce crashes is flawed due to the variables involved.

2. The basic course, like other courses and books/videos, are simply tools by which to identify where your deficiencies are to improve your riding strategy, attitude, and skills. Learning is a life-long endeavor.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1713 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 12/22/2013 :  2:47 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I'm coming from a different perspective though. Great if MSF has a proven method to teach a newbie how to operate a motorcycle. No argument here.

It's just that, the beginner course is used pretty much in lieu of a driving test in order to get a license. In that respect, I bet I'm not alone when I initially thought a person passing the BRC and getting their endorsement, was not only taught how to operate a motorcycle but in a safer way on the road too.

I assumed, but there must be plenty of others as well, that taking the BRC was motorcycling's equivalent to taking a car driving course. But then if I reversed the scenario, and imagine driving courses never leave a parking lot, never drive on the sreet, I'd wonder who would pay for such a class?

I kind of suspect that the trick is that almost all motorcycles are manual transmissions, and much of the range work is spent getting aquainted with shifting and clutching. For example, it seems to me that from older to younger, all these people buying under 50cc scooters that meet the definition of moped, pretty much hop on and go. An easy step up from a bicycle.

What kind of surprised me was that even though the MSF class contains classroom tips, from counter steering, to lane positioning, T clock, and looking ahead etc, that stuff might not register with the students. It doesn't register because they're possibly overwhelmed, but also because they are sitting in a classroom.

It just seems to me, that in this day and age, hooking up a 2 way radio equipped DMV inspector with a testing motorcyclist for a road test would be an easy an cheap way to go.

By the way, I learned by going from bicycle, to minibike, to a 200cc bike on the grass around my parents house. I was already familiar with manual transmissions, so that was little issue for me.

I just wonder if passing the BRC is adequate to be licensed for the public roads.
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DataDan
Advanced Member
563 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 12/22/2013 :  7:32 PM
quote:

Originally posted by MasterGuns:

The idea that a basic course (covering the essential elements of awareness and physical skills to operate a motorcycle) could reduce the amount of crashes appears to be a wishful outcome, but not grounded in reality.

There are too many variables with beginning riders (e.g., attitude, maturity, type of bike ridden, etc.) to correlate basic training to crashes.
Welcome to the forum. You've raised some good points that deserve a response.

If it seems, in retrospect, that the training that began in the US in the 1970s does not reduce crashes, why did it seem like a good idea at the time?

The motorcycling boom of 1960 to 1980 was a dark period for motorcycling. I don't have US data prior to 1975, but I do have California data back to 1960. Here, annual motorcycle deaths increased from just over 100 in 1960 to 865 in 1979, 75% of which were under age 30. That's a far higher total than in any year since recovery from the big slump mentioned in my previous post (in 2012, the total was 435).

That was the context in which Harry Hurt got his $500,000 DOT grant to study 900 motorcycle crashes and identify causes and countermeasures. The skill deficits he found among crash-involved riders informed design of the MSF course. In particular, many were unable to brake or swerve in an emergency, so these crucial skills would be emphasized.

Thus the basic idea was sound: Riders were crashing because they lacked fundamental skills. Teach those skills and reduce crashes.


quote:
Conversely, it's doubtful (due to the difficulty of gathering this data) that anyone has measured the actual benefits of this basic training where situational awareness were gained and skills were gained to avoid crashes.
In fact, When the State of California took over motorcycle training in 1986 (that's the CMSP mentioned in my previous post), they commissioned a study in which trainees were matched to untrained novices, and the crash experiences of the two compared. (At the same time, they compared an ERC group with a matched group of untrained, experienced riders. I was a subject in that part of the study after attending the ERC in 1987.) Studies have been done in other states, too.

The somewhat disappointing result of the California study was that only the greenest noobs (less than 500mi previous riding experience) benefitted from training by reducing crash risk, and even then, statistical signficance was weak.

As I see it, we're just now discovering the difficulty of "training the crash out of motorcyclists". If learning the fundamental control skills doesn't do it, what other skills or strategies or attitudes should be added to reduce crashing?

Edited by - DataDan on 12/22/2013 7:40 PM
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gymnast
Moderator
4260 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 12/22/2013 :  10:18 PM
Expanding on what Data Dan said and going back to the mid 1950s many states had a motorcycle only cycle license for persons aged 14 who passed a written (and some states and on street riding test which consisted of going around the block. The license was good for two wheeled vehicles up to 5 HP (there were no helmet laws at that time).

Both myself and and the gal whom later became my wife were licensed at age 14. I had a 125cc James and she had a 125cc Harley. I taught myself to ride on the streets of Chicago, she, under the watchful eye of her older sister on the back roads and in the strip mines of Southern Illinois.

The "14 year old licenses" were phased out by most states in the late 1950s and early 60s about the time that the "first wave" of Japanese lightweights arrived in the US. By 1963 the availability of Japanese "Cubs", "Super Cubs", and various other iterations was a fad and a phenomena without precedent. Most new riders on these small bikes were carrying unsuspecting passengers within a day or two of purchase. Millions of these machines were sold for use by young high school and college students and they crashed by the thousands and died by numbers that were unprecedented in prior years.

It was against that background of mayhem involving new purchasers of under 100cc bikes as well as "big bikes" up to 305cc that the NHTSA was created, the National Highway Safety Act (HSA) was implemented and a Motorcycle Safety Standard was included in the HSA. Two measures were immediately implemented by virtually all states, Mandatory Helmet Use and the requirement for a Motorcycle License Endorsement and test.

The Motorcycle industry saw that required helmets implied risk in the use of their products and that mandatory licensing may be an impediment affecting potential customers buying decisions. Thus in 1971 the Motorcycle Safety Foundation was born, created by the Motorcycle Industry Council as a 501-6c tax free organization, able to benefit from Federal as well as Motorcycle Industry funding.

There is a lot more to the story, maybe someday it will be told.

As James said above, learning the basics of motorcycle control operation is, on the face of it, less risky through participation in an organized program of instruction in a controlled off street environment than "jumping into the pool", maybe the "deep end of the pool" with no instruction and taking ones chances in traffic.

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