This section provides overview guides that describe, analyze and evaluate strategies and countermeasures relevant to motorcyclist safety.  What works and what does not?  What are the costs and implementation times for various countermeasures?  What research is available related to the various countermeasures. A helpful feature of most of these countermeasure overviews is the inclusion of a rating system.  Sadly, it is clear from the summaries of the research reported in the documents listed below that virtually none of the countermeasures that are implemented to reduce the number motorcyclist crashes, fatalities and injuries have been proven effective by research.

Overviews Research Studies

2024 “Roadmap to Safety”

This is a comprehensive annual report by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety assessing the state of safety on our nation’s roads. Based on government and private research, crash data and state experience, Advocates has determined the traffic safety laws that are critical to reducing motor vehicle deaths and injuries. States are rated based on their implementation or lack thereof of these critical laws.  

2023 Countermeasures That Work, 11th Edition

The guide describes major countermeasures, summarizes countermeasure use, effectiveness, cost, implementation time and provides references to the most important research summaries and individual studies.  Chapter 6, pages 275 - 303 addresses motorcyclist safety.  Universal Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws remains the only countermeasure determined to be effective by several high-quality evaluations with consistent results. Alcohol Impaired Motorcyclists: Detection, Enforcement and Sanctions remains rated as promising. Rider training remains with a 2-star rating meaning there is limited evaluation evidence, but the practice adheres to principles of human behavior and may be effective if implemented well. GDL is new for 2023 and is (like training) rated 2-star.  We have posted the entire document because the sections on Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driving and Speed and Speed Management provide additional and extensive information relevant to motorcyclist safety.

2022/2023 “Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws”

Reports ( 2022 Advocates Roadmap Report  ) (2023 Advocates Roadmap Report ) by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety provide a guide for States to enact lifesaving traffic safety laws. SMARTER and Advocates’ have partnered on dozens of efforts to enact all-rider motorcycle helmet requirements as well as oppose measures that would weaken existing laws. Our partnership on the federal level will continue to ensure the rule for Automatic Emergency Braking detects and responds to all road users including motorcycles, that vehicles equipped with Autonomous Driving Systems are required to respond to motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, and to advance Anti-lock Braking Systems as standard equipment for motorcycles.  

2022 – “Saving Lives through Road Safety Risk Factor Interventions

This research estimates the potential number of lives saved if each country implemented interventions to address  four (4) risk factors for road injuries (i.e., speeding, drink driving, helmet use, and use of seatbelt or child restraint). Results suggest that the implementation of evidence-based road safety interventions that target the four main road safety risk factors could prevent between 25% and 40% of all fatal road injuries worldwide.

2021 – “Research Overview – Riding Smart Member Newsletter, Jan./Feb.

This newsletter contains summaries of our understanding and interpretation of some of the major motorcyclist safety research topics including: alcohol, conspicuity, motorcycle design and equipment, helmets and helmets laws, lane splitting, licensing, motorist awareness, perception, protective gear, roads and rider training.  A very brief summary of the research is provided and SMARTER shares the associations ideas about what needs to be done in that area in order to reduce the risk of motorcyclists crashing and thereby reducing injuries, seriousness of injuries and fatalities.

2021 – Countermeasures That Work, Tenth Edition, 2020

The guide describes major strategies and countermeasures, summarizes strategy/countermeasure use, effectiveness, cost, implementation time and provides references to the most important research summaries and individual studies.  Chapter 5, pages 255 – 274  addresses motorcyclist safety.  The appendix for chapter 5, pages 522 – 541 provides expanded discussion of countermeasure that have received only a 1-star or 2-star rating because there has been limited or no high-quality evidence or because effectiveness is still undetermined based on the available evidence.  Here is a two-page document  that provides an overview of this Tenth Edition. We have posted the entire document because the sections on Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driving and Speed and Speed Management provide addition and extensive information relevant to motorcyclist safety.  

2019 – “What we can do – to what we do – so what we do actually works!”

SMARTER PowerPoint presentation at the 2019 State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) conference held September 12-14 in Grand Rapids, MI. The information presented in the workshop is counterintuitive and challenges our common assumptions; however, the ideas are rooted in the available research.  The belief that traditional rider training, motorist awareness communication campaigns and motorcycle license endorsements are effective measures to reduce crash risk is not supported by available research.  Insights collected from the research regarding what changes to these traditional countermeasures might lead to effectiveness were shared.  

2018 – “Countermeasures that Work – What the Research Tells Us”

This is the Jan./Feb. 2018 Special Edition of Riding Smart.  It summarizes the major research and literature reviews which address countermeasures in motorcyclist safety.  Countermeasures are the things we do to try to reach our goals.  This special issue is designed to provide a quick reference summary of the research regarding countermeasures that work (or have no evidence of working).

2017 – “Survive the Ride”

This is a slide presentation from the 2017 Lifesavers conference. The Survive the Ride is a unique educational program which provides prevention efforts for patients of motorcycle crashes, their families, and medical personnel involved with motorcycle crash victims. The program teaches hospital staff regarding motorcycle crash injury mitigation and also provides a brief intervention to motorcycle crash victims in order to prevent future crashes.  The slides also include significant data regarding health care costs helmet law information.    

2017 – “Countermeasures That Work – Ch. # 5, Motorcyclist Safety”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Easy to read summaries of the research related to nine strategies in four categories.  Each strategy is rated on effectiveness, cost, use and time to implement.

2017 – “Powered Two- and Three-wheeler Safety. A Road Safety Manual for Decision-makers and Practitioners”

This manual published by the World Health Organization provides information for use in developing and implementing comprehensive measures to improve PTW safety. It examines the extent of PTW related fatalities and injuries, and the importance of addressing the key risk factors or PTW crashes. The steps outlined for conducting a situational assessment aim to help prioritize interventions, prepare a related plan of action and help implement and evaluate PTW safety measures.

2016 “Effectiveness of Interventions to Prevent Motorcycle Injuries: Systematic Review of the Literature”

The authors carried out a systematic review of the literature to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to prevent motorcycle crashes and the associated morbidity and mortality. The studies included in this review provide evidence for the effectiveness of helmet use, protective clothing, training, and penalties for alcohol consumption and speeding in preventing injury and death to motorcyclists.

2015-“European Scanning Tour for Motorcycle Safety Final Report”

This is the 196-page final report on the European Scanning Tour for Motorcycle Safety (RIDERSCAN). The project collected existing information on motorcycle safety in Europe, identified needs for action and established a cross-border knowledge-based network, thereby creating a lasting European framework for communicating and collecting data on PTW safety. The main objectives of the project included the identification and comparison of national initiatives on PTWs, and the identification of best practices. Another important objective was to collect and structure existing knowledge at European level in order to identify critical gaps for future efforts to focus on. Finally, the project aimed at identifying the critical needs for policy action, whether at European or national level, with a view to disseminating them to a wide range of relevant stakeholders in Europe in the coming years.

2015 – “Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Eighth Edition, 2015, Chapter 5, Motorcycles”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Chapter 5 is 33 pages including references that provide easy to read summaries of the research related to nine strategies in four categories.  A strategy is rated on effectiveness, cost, use and time to implement.

2013 – “Effective Targeting of Motorcycle Safety Countermeasures in New Zealand”

The specific aims of this 93 page report were to summarize current knowledge on the effectiveness of the full range of motorcyclist safety countermeasures and to estimate the potential crash reduction and injury benefits that could be expected from applying identified effective motorcyclist safety countermeasures.

2012 – “Overview of Critical Risk Factors in Power-Two-Wheeler Safety”

This is an extensive review of the literature which provides a synthesis of critical risk factors of PTW safety with respect to behavioral, infrastructure, vehicle and weather parameters. Behavioral factors concern PTW drivers’ attitudes and driving patterns, errors and violations, conspicuity and perception of automobile drivers for PTWs, age, gender and experience, education and learning, fatigue, alcohol and other impairments and personal safety equipment and apparel. Road infrastructure related PTW risk factors refer to the type of road network, the road geometry and roadside installations, lighting and visibility, type of collision, junction type and pavement surface conditions. Vehicle related factors concern engine size, PTW and opponent vehicle size, in-vehicle technologies and day-time running lights and weather-related factors concern temperature and precipitation.  

2012 – “Motorcycle Safety: How to Save Lives and Save Money”

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention.  This document provides a chart (page 10) rating nine typical motorcyclist safety efforts as unknown, uncertain, likely, and scientifically proven.

2011 – “Motorcyclists – A Literature Review and Exploratory Analysis”

This is an extensive overview conducted in the UK. The aim of this research is to identify whether there are any differences between serious and fatal road traffic collisions involving motorcyclists and examine ways of increasing safety and reducing casualty involvement through education, engineering and enforcement initiatives.

2010 – “The Potential of Different Countermeasures in Reducing Motorcycle Fatal Crashes:  What In-Depth Studies Tell Us”

This document is a 10 page summary of a 2010 study that used in-depth studies of 182 fatal motorcycle crashes that occurred in Sweden during the period 2005-2008.  Every fatal crash was analyzed and critical events throughout the chain of events leading to the crash were identified. An assessment was then made of whether certain countermeasures could have prevented the crash or mitigated the injury outcome.  More than 30 countermeasures are addressed, each with a short paragraph summarizing potential effectiveness.

2008 – “A Guide for Addressing Collisions Involving Motorcycles, NCHRP Report 500, Vol 22”

National Cooperative Highway Research Program.  This is a 177 page guide plus extensive references which identifies eight motorcyclist safety objectives, strategies associated with each objective and summaries of research relevant to each strategy, provides estimates of implementation timeframe, cost and expected effectiveness and identifies each strategy as proven, tried or experimental.

1996 – “Motorcycle Crash Countermeasures Literature Review”

A report from Monash University, Australia.  The review examined proposed countermeasures designed to prevent crashes or reduce injury in the event of a crash.  The need for improvements in the measures or implementation of measures was discussed.

1992 – “Motorcycle Safety Literature Review 1987 – 1991”

This Australian report presents the findings and recommendation of a world-wide review of the literature in motorcyclist safety research, covering the period 1987 to 1991. The literature examined was divided into a number of categories which included the following: alcohol, licensing, rider training, motorcycle design features, road environment, public education and awareness and helmet design.  For each category, current research relating to countermeasures is reviewed, the success or failure of existing applications is documented, the relevance to Australia is assessed, and recommendations and directions for future research are noted.