Intelligent Motorcyclist

Intelligent Motorcyclist makes sense of available data collection and relevant analyses to provide actionable information while incorporating motorcycle industry’s best practices that translate into Safety through excellence in operation.

Intelligent Motorcyclist

WHAT WE DO

The U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S Air Force independently conducted motorcycle crash studies around 2014, reaching very different conclusions. The former identified deficiencies in two critical skills–breaking and steering at typical highway speeds–as the leading cause of crashes, where as the latter found “willful noncompliance,” to be the chief casual factor.
Those of us who conducted the USMC study found the Air Force study to be logically incoherent (at best), and wondered if they were in fact offering a “red herring.”
In order to understand our reasoning, one needs to understand the state of motorcycle training in the services. For the USMC in particular, there are 187,000 Marines of which approximately 17,000 ride motorcycles. It is mandatory that all USMC riders complete the Basic Rider’s Course (BRC) which is provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), and return for an “advanced” course in a specified time period. (It’s worth noting that the “advanced” course is also provided by the MSF and contains no additional or “advanced” instruction)
There are approximately three percent of USMC riders who received “Level 3” training through various motorcycle training schools, some of which fortunately provide corrections to gaps and misinformation provided by the BRC. However, the Level III schools differ in their instructions in several critical areas.
Considering the fact that the vast majority of USMC riders only receive the most basic of instruction at low speeds (BRC) and the minority receive additional conflicting information–some highly beneficial, others of little value–it’s wholly inappropriate to make any assessment of the rider’s “judgement,” prior to establishing “best practices.”
As to the notion that the Air Force may have been offering a “red herring,” this is not a new concept. This line of reasoning was also proffered by Ralph Nader in his book, “Unsafe at any speed.” Part of his argument was that the blame for vehicle accidents and fatalities was placed on the driver. He claimed that the road safety mantra called the “Three E’s” (Engineering, Enforcement and Education) was created by the industry in the 1920s to distract attention from the real problems of vehicle safety. To the industry, he said “Enforcement” and “Education” meant the driver, while “Engineering” was all about the road.
We had no reason to believe that the Air Force had a motive to distract, but we did find it plausible for their study to reach the wrong conclusion premised on the false assumption that motorcycle training “best practices” have been established and properly delivered. Considering the current state of motorcycle safety training we began to see conclusions with terms like “willful noncompliance,” and “behavioral issues,” to be euphemisms meant to blame the rider and to distract attention from the real problem of improper and insufficient training.

Intelligent Motorcyclist