Friday, December 4, 2009

Withdrawal of crash study information

We made an error in previous pieces on the Motorcycle Crash Study.   We have fixed that information and we owe Jim Ouellet an apology.  Jim Ouellet is a pioneering researcher in motorcycle safety, who worked on the original Hurt report and has given freely of his time in the Thailand and Maids studies.

We spoke to the Principal Investigator, Dr. Ahmed, in November, and he was very specific in saying that QA work was done by Jim Ouellet at his rack rate, and that this was the reason why the per-crash cost was so high.  When I asked him to spell 'Ouellet', he referred me to the Hurt study report, where Jim Ouellet is listed as co-author and Motorcycle Specialist.   I called the Consultants Bureau, the only contact available for Mr Ouellet.  They confirmed the rack rate as specified by Dr. Ahmed, but Mr Ouellet did not return the call.  Jim Ouellet did some consultancy work for the pilot but I confirmed today that it was done for free, like his pro-bono work on the OECD methodology and the Thai study.  

When I called Dr. Ahmed today to ask him why he misinformed me about Mr Ouellet's involvement last month, he first denied that he had said what he said, and then said 'it shows what sort of a website you run that you would not check your facts'. 

Well, OK, I am not a professional journalist and I did make a mistake in this matter.   But surely I should be able to rely on information provided by a prominent academic like Dr Ahmed?    I'm going to be charitable and assume that he was somehow misinformed, and also has a bad memory about what he said on the phone.  This is important information that goes to the core of his assignment with the Crash Causation Study and he should have known what he was talking about.   I'll take his comment today as an expression of annoyance about my asking him for information, and I'll hope he's a lot more careful with his facts in the crash study. 

In the meantime, I have fixed the information on the Bikesafer site, and I have put in a Freedom of Information Act request for the full pilot technical report and contract documentation from NHTSA.  We'll publish it when we get it. 

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