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FHWA launches Oklahoma State University motorcycle crash study

A major new study into the causes of motorcycle crashes will commence soon at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Announced by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the study will give motorcyclists and others concerned with highway safety a fuller picture of how motorcycles fit into today’s traffic mix a better understanding of what causes motorcycle crashes, and insights into the best strategies to prevent those crashes. The FHWA is overseeing the OSU project, which will be administered at the Oklahoma Transportation Center – an independent research facility in Stillwater. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently conducted a pilot study in the Southern California area to finalize the methodology for the comprehensive research study.

The last major motorcycle crash study, Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures – commonly known as the Hurt Report (named after lead researcher Harry Hurt) – was published in 1981, and provided a wealth of data that has since been used to develop training and strategies to help keep riders safer on the road. The FHWA says that researchers would evaluate data from hundreds of motorcycle crashes to help identify common factors, including road configurations, environmental conditions and rider experience. The study’s focus is to examine whether effectively implemented countermeasures might affect these factors and prevent motorcycle crashes, or reduce the harm when they occur.

Left: Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations says the new study will take years to complete but will ultimately provide valuable information for next-generation motorcycle safety

The traffic environment has changed enormously in the following 28 years, prompting the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago. “The announcement that the full study will now begin is great news,” explains Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. “Although the study will take years to complete, it promises to offer up information that will allow for the creation of effective countermeasures to make the roads safer for all of us. There is certainly a lot more traffic now than when Harry Hurt and his team did their research,” Moreland says. “SUVs didn’t exist back then, and motorcycles have advanced light years in technology. On top of that, distracted driving poses a significant safety challenge. We will certainly learn a lot from this new study.”

 

October 13, 2009

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