Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MSF Comes Off the Crash Study Fence

MSF announced today that they are partnering with Virginia Tech to run a motorcycle crash study which uses instrumentation mounted on bikes to collect data about crashes and near-crashes.  This type of study has been done with some success in cars and trucks.  This will be the first time it's being done on motorcycles, we guess the electronics have gotten small enough to make that feasible.  The data collection devices include miniature video cameras, motion sensors and GPS transponders, which provide very detailed information on what the bike, rider and other vehicles are doing.  We'll bring more on previous studies of this type when we get some homework done. 

Of course, there are always risk of sample skew in such a study.   Bikers who volunteer to have the gadgets attached to their bikes might have a different attitude to safety,  and maybe the knowledge that big brother is watching might cause the rider to change her riding habits, like speed a little slower. 

The advantages of not being confined to a single city location and a helmet-law state, and the ability to study events that don't result in a 911 call, not to mention avoiding the political constraints piled on the OSU study, might result in information useful to bikers. The technique has potential for producing more information at less expense.

The successful Maids study was financed by the European Manufacturers association, and the Thailand study was financed bu Honda, so manufacturer-financed studies have a good record. 

We have been enthusiastic supporters of the ill-fated OSU study, which has been accursed by an evil politician, Daniel Inhofe, who gave the study as pork to OSU, and and incompetent chief investigator, Dr. Samir Ahmed.   The late Harry Hurt expressed disappointment in the OSU study, and clearly MSF has decided not to throw good money after bad.  Who's to say they are wrong.

The non-motorcycle-rider Dr. Ahmed has been reported in recent weeks to be on tenterhooks awaiting the result of last week's MSF meeting, where the final touches were made to this policy.  He was expecting MSF to restore the funding they withheld from his study, and will no doubt take this development as a kick in the teeth.  He can now get back to 'proving' that a 300-sample study is as good as a 900 to 1200 sample study, and whining about his expense account.  OSU, by politicking the SAFETEA-LU grant and holding out for up to 12 million in pork, have shot themselves in the foot and done a great disservice to bikers by wasting research money and alienating the previously supportive MSF by their antics.   The MSF action should be interpreted as a censure of OSU and its flacks and minions. 

We'll be watching what MSF and Virginia Tech do with their study and hoping that the OSU study can somehow be rescued by handing the project over to someone competent.   


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