The situation has changed, and MSF has allocated its study funds to a new, 'naturalistic' study at Virginia Tech. There is now little hope that anyone will fund the greedy and lazy OSU dons to complete the study as envisioned in SAFETEA-LU, which is what our petition asked for. The penny has pretty much dropped on the OSU 'researchers', and we think that, even if they produced a study, that it would achieve little traction, as Ahmed and Tree have lost all credibility in the motorcycling world.
Although the 'naturalistic' vehicle study technique it totally untested in motorcycles, and is still relatively new in other vehicles, we think it has promise. We are reading up on the '100-car study' and will be reporting back to you as soon as we can plow through the material. The basic idea is that a bunch of vehicles have an array of sensors and video cameras installed, which the driver gets used to very quickly, and the electronics gather continuous data, on crashes, near misses and a collection of incident types which could be a crash precursor. It's an interesting idea. In particular, it might highlight ways to avoid problems and successful evasions, which are never caught in classical, Hurt-style studies. We could potentially learn more about these techniques via this study than from the OSU study.
It's early days yet, but we like both of MSF's new initiatives, which marks a major change at MSF. They have been criticized for their course offerings and for various perceived policy problems, maybe this is MSF paying attention to riders and to the increasing biker death toll, and fixing their issues. We welcome the announcements and await the outcomes with just a little skepticism.
Like it or not, MSF is the 10,000 lb gorilla in the motorcycle training world, their problems affect us all, and we would all benefit from training and research improvements at MSF. It'd also be good if they rode a bit more at MSF, several of their guys ride a few token thousand miles per year.
We will continue monitoring both studies. We have obtained the schedule of work on the Westat contract, which includes the OSU pilot study after a Freedom of Information Act request to DOT. It's been delivered to the house, and I'll scan it up and publish it when I get back from my current road trip. In addition, we are informed by DOT that the preliminary pilot study technical report should be published by May 1st, 2010 and we'll be looking for that and commenting on it as soon as we see it.
These documents should help explain what happened to the more than two million in mostly tax money that has been spent so far, and shed some light on OSU's exorbitant demands for study cash.
Stay with Bikesafer.com as we shed light on both studies.