The Research

A prime objective of SMARTER is to gather, organize and make the relevant motorcyclist safety research easily available to riders, decision makers and the non-riding public.  When deliberating a motorcyclist safety countermeasure four major considerations should be taken into account.  They are:

  1. How much time will it take to implement?
  2. Will motorcyclists use it?
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. Will it work – will it be effective?

The first three may vary substantially from community to community. However, effectiveness should be judged based on the available research which varies widely in quality and quantity.   For example, there are hundreds of quality research reports on the effectiveness of wearing helmets and all-rider helmet laws (Research Reference List: Motorcycle Helmets and Helmet Laws) but there is very little research we can find regarding the effectiveness of motorist awareness programs like “Look Twice, Save A Life” yard signs.

We know we cannot post everything so we have tried to organize the research into logical categories and post or provide links to quality (or sometimes just the most often talked about) research.  The most recent research is posted first.  Readers wanting to view the research in the published chronological order may wish to scroll to the bottom of the page and access the documents from the bottom up.

In many cases a research study will provide information on several topics so our choices of where to place it within our categories are somewhat arbitrary in that regard.  For example, we have the famous “Hurt Study” listed under Crash Causation even though the study also provides excellent information regarding conspicuity, helmet effectiveness and rider skills.  Many of the research reports are similar in that regard.   Literature reviews are often the best reports to read first as they provide an overview of the topic and are extensively referenced.  Most research reports begin with a problem statement, a review of the literature and also contain extensive reference lists so looking at a single study can provides a path to elaboration.

Understanding the Scientific Method and knowing what constitutes quality research is also important.  An excellent paper which discusses the importance of good research, discusses common causes of bias, provides guidelines for evaluating research and data quality, and describes examples of bad research can be accessed here. 

We encourage visitors to get well acquainted with the information available. Regarding the research, SMARTER believes “The more you know, the better it gets” as the old Motorcycle Safety Foundation motto about rider training states.  A brief overview of some of the major topics is contained in our Jan.-Feb 2021 Riding Smart member newsletter.

Our focus in on published research, however, high quality data is also extremely valuable for helping both riders and policy makers make responsible decisions.  The National Motorcycle Institute is the best single source we know for accessing quality data.  Contact us if you know of a research report we should make available or if you are looking for something specific and cannot find it.