Thursday, October 15, 2009

LA Times confirms study money withheld.

If you click the link in the blog header, you'll see the LA Times article, which confirms our blog post from earlier in the week about the study funding. The news seems to be worse, as the LA Times suggests that only another 247 crashes will be studied over the 53 already done as part of the pilot study just completed. The public funding is $2M from the highway reauthorization bill, $500K from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, $500K from pooled study funds from the state DOTs, and $100K from the American Motorcyclist Assn. The AMA conducted a campaign to persuade the states to chip in, and have done amazingly well helping bring the study to this point.

Our conversation with Dr. Samir Ahmed, the Principal Investigator at Oklahoma State U., suggests that they might be able to get a total of 400 crashes studied, more than the LA Times suggests, and it is possible that future highway funding legislation might include additional funds.

The MSF has cited the 900 crash requirement as a reason for renaging on their matching fund commitment. They said:
... with a limited sample size of approximately 300, we believe the study will not provide sufficient statistical significance of the OECD identified study variables and the MSF Board of Trustees has determined that MSF must continue to make its commitment of funds contingent upon a sample size of at least 900 cases.

The MSF is right, as far as the above comment goes, but their action, in withholding funding, is likely to scupper chances of having the Feds throw in the additional cash required to get the numbers to 900. Here's the MSF full statement on the issue.

In our opinion, the MSF would be better advised to support the current study and look for ways to get it funded and/or cut enough costs to make it happen. After all, the contract was signed in easier economic times, and factors are cheaper now than they were then. And business harder to find.

Friends of bikers, like Rep. Steve Cohen of the Transportation Committee, the various State motorcycle safety administrators who contributed to the pooled study, the AMA and the many individuals and organizations that have supported this measure, have reason to feel betrayed by this attempt by the MSF to avoid their obligations. Plus every biker in the country, who ultimately are the customers of the MSF members (the bike makers).

We say: the major players: the NHTSA, AMA, MSF, OSU and Dynamic Sciences of Phoenix, the contractors for the study, should get their heads together and figure out some way of making the study go forward with at least 900 crashes reported. Is there someone out there who can call a meeting and make the various parties to this debacle see some sense? Are we going to waste this $3m in public and 100K in AMA money on a study that has been frittered down to a useless nub?

We might not see another chance for a definitive crash causation study in our lifetimes, and bikers will continue to die if we don't figure out for sure what is causing bike crashes.

We need the new study. Make it so, MSF.

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