MSF announces motorcycling naturalistic study

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has launched a first-of-its-kind motorcyclist naturalistic study administered by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

During the year-long study, 100 motorcyclists will ride seven different bikes from five brands – including sport bikes, cruisers and touring bikes – so the MSF can track real-time, near-crash, pre-crash and actual crash information.

“Our priority with this research is to observe the participants on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Sherry Williams, MSF director of quality assurance and research. “We’re installing unobtrusive cameras and recording devices on the bikes so the participants soon forget they’re being recorded. We can learn a tremendous amount by just observing their normal, routine riding behavior.”

Each bike will include five color cameras, a GPS, accelerometers, gyro, forward radar, machine vision lane tracker, brake lever and pedal input and other data acquisition systems. The 100 anonymous participants have been recruited by VTTI based primarily on age and model of motorcycle owned. The two age groups studied will be those in the 21-34 age group and 45-64 group.

“We are very excited about this pioneering research,” MSF President Tim Buche said. “In the United States each year, the vast majority of riders travel more than 25 billion miles collectively and they ride safely and without incident. But riders have not been scientifically observed in a natural setting. And this naturalistic study will allow us to learn from these riders and then incorporate those findings into our rider education and training programs and other safety countermeasures.”

The first rider has already taken to the road. The riders will tack on about 500,000 total miles. They will be based out of data collection facilities at VTTI in Blacksburg, Va., MSF headquarters in Irvine, Calif., and the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla.

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