Here's something I found online in the NYTimes website today. Looks like it was posted online yesterday. Seems to be a distillation of Highway Loss Data Institute information:
Motorcycle Training Does Not Reduce Crash Risk, Study Says
By CHERYL JENSEN
Courses designed to make new motorcyclists safer are not decreasing crashes, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, research also shows that helmets and antilock brakes on motorcycles are life savers.
“We are not saying they aren’t supposed to get training, but we need to have realistic expectations about what training can do,” said Anne McCartt, the senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute, which is funded by the insurance industry.
These findings are part of a number of studies the institutes have just released on motorcycles. The groups have looked at antilock brakes, helmet laws and rider training programs to see what role they play in keeping riders safe and preventing deaths.
The issue is that as ridership has increased, so has the number of fatal crashes. Motorcycle registrations rose to 7.7 million in 2008, which is up from 4.3 million in 2000, according to R.L. Polk & Company data. Rider deaths topped 5,000 in 2008, more than in any year since 1975, when the government began collecting fatal crash data.
Eight out of 10 motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, compared with two out of 10 car crashes, the study found. It makes sense, because motorcycle riders don’t ride in a cocoon with crush space, seat belts and airbags to protect them.
But some things do help prevent deaths.
The study shows that motorcycles with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and buyers can now find them on at least 60 new models, according to the institute. And helmets reduce the likelihood of a death in a crash by 37 percent.
What is not so certain are the safety benefits of mandatory training programs for young drivers in some states. The study compared insurance claims in four states that require riders under 21 to take courses with states that do not. The study noted a 10 percent increase in crashes in states that required the courses.
But that finding wasn’t “statistically significant,” Ms. McCartt said. That means the increase might or might not be real, although the institute found it worth noting. “It is important that it was going in the opposite direction of what people would expect,” she said.
While it seems counterintuitive that more education couldn’t be a good thing, this finding is similar to other research on driver education for teenagers that has concluded that driver education hasn’t been shown to reduce car crashes, Ms. McCartt said.
“I certainly think it is compelling that rider training classes don’t seem to be keeping people safer,” she said. “People need to know how to operate motorcycles, and I think a training course would be a good way for someone to learn how to do that.”
But, she said, it may be that a training class does not change the “potential risk-taking behaviors that are associated with crashes – speeding, alcohol, the type of bike you are riding. There is a lot a class can’t do.”
Robert Gladden, the general manager of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation — an industry-sponsored group that promotes safety through rider training and education, operator licensing tests and public information programs — said he had no comment on the findings because the foundation “would have to spend quite a bit of time going through their data to either verify or validate it.”