Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Visiting the Crash Causation Study Researchers

In our continuing series on the Motorcycle Crash Study Petition, we were confused. A lot of well-meaning people messing up a perfectly good crash causation study.

We have a rule at bikesafer.com, when in doubt, ride somewhere. So I checked out the ST1300 and set out on the 1500 miles of slab time to Phoenix. I have to admit I took a few detours, along AZ route 264 through the spectacularly beautiful Hopi mesas, and then a short jaunt between Jerome and Prescott, where there are some very cool twisties.

Our other rule is 'follow the money', which in this case is to the subcontractor for the study crash data collection.

I emailed the president of Dynamic Science last week and got no reply, so yesterday I turned up at the Dynamic Science office at Black Canyon Highway. Didn't know what to expect, but I've been escorted to parking lots by security before, so no worries. I was expecting to find maybe a bunch of gnomes knitting up gnarly business scams.

After dallying with the receptionist, being told that there was no-one there until hours later in the afternoon, and offering to wait, the harried 'Director of First Impressions' went and got Ralph Rockow, a tall gentleman in his seventies. He introduced himself as an engineer - which turned out to be a bit of an understatement, as he is a rocket scientist. He is the owner and founder of Exodyne, the parent company of Dynamic Sciences.

As a geek, I understand engineers, and Ralph is a very genial guy. He was the head of the design team for the lunar lander mission, and devised the scheme that saved the Apollo 13 astronauts after their oxygen tank blew up, a huge feat of extemperaneous engineering. His other accomplishments include developing airbags and doing all that vehicle testing that led to the post-Nader improvements in car safety. Check out his resume, he is an intellectual giant and I don't mind admitting, I was out of my league. But I staggered through the basic facts about the study and the shennanigans I have been documenting here and on the bikesafer.com site.

Well, I promised to keep the conversation off the record, and he didn't promise anything other than he'd look into it, but his brother is a biker and he obviously cares hugely about saving lives.

But with Ralph Rockow looking into the problems with the Crash Causation Study I have no doubt that light will be shed in stellar quantities.

I've looked into Dynamic Science and they are highly qualified to do the crash research. They should be well able to make up for the motorcycle knowledge deficiencies at OSU.

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