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Take a look at the NHTSA study

This is a Knight-Ridder wire story that's been running in papers across the country over the past few days. The whole "experts are baffled" angle the reporter used is unfortunate, because if you look at the NHTSA study it is based on they have plenty of data for de-baffling.

For one thing, the 50% increase is measured since 1997 -- which was an all-time low. If you look at the graph from 1992 to 2002 it's a pronounced "V" shape.

For another, they note that there has been a significant drop in helmet use, especially in the past two years.

The study is worth looking at also because they detail the further studies they're planning to do over the next five or six years. Those are the ones to look out for, because their findings will probably be used to back up any new laws aimed at stopping this "alarming trend."

The NHTSA seems to believe strongly in training, so maybe we will end up seeing tiered licensing in this country. About time IMO.
 

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Point taken

I agree it's significant, I just think it's presented in an alarmist way. Where were the articles in 1997 saying, "motorcycle fatalities drop by 50%, experts are baffled"? It's more interesting to look at the detailed data. For instance, the study says, "Motorcyclists age 40 and over riding larger motorcycle engine sizes account for the fastest growing group of motorcyclist fatalities" -- not that this comes as a surprise to MO most readers.
 

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Re: What would tiered licensing accomplish?

I haven't seen studies on Euro and Japanese laws, but New Zealand analyzed the impact of their tiered licensing law and found a 22% drop in fatalities among 15- to 19-year-old riders, which was the group they were targeting.

Of course this won't immediately help the 45-year-old RUB who never learned about countersteering, but you have to start somewhere.

For a whole crapload more info check out this report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Ottawa.

Also, don't forget that we already have graduated (or tiered) licensing in many states -- new riders can't carry passengers, can't ride after dark, etc. The effectiveness of these kind of restrictions when applied to automobiles is well documented. The controversial thing here is limiting displacement (and of course we should probably be limiting power or power-to-weight instead, but that's another discussion).

Anyway, what's the basis for your claim that it doesn't work?
 

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Police reports are not very detailed

Once, in response to yet another "motorcycle accident kills somebody, they sure are dangerous" article in a local paper I wrote to the reporter and asked why there was never any information about experience level or safety gear, except for the presence or absence of a helmet (the type of which -- beanie, half, full-face, astronaut -- is never identified either).

The reply I got was that most of the time all they have to go on is the police reports, which only record the bare minimum.

Cops have plenty to do, and I wouldn't advocate turning them into data collectors, but as somebody pointed out above, if the data is bad the laws will be bad.

I wonder if the insurance industry (boo, hiss) has anything more detailed.
 
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