Motorcycle fatalities in Texas declined in 2009, halting an 11-year trend of steady increases, but there is no complacency among state officials. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Traffic Safety Program funded several projects to keep the momentum going and continue statewide efforts to improve motorcycle safety.
Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) Research Scientist Patricia Turner leads the projects, which range from increasing driver awareness of motorcycles to expanding educational opportunities for motorcycle training instructors.
“The key to keeping the downward trend for motorcycle fatalities in Texas is education and outreach,” said Karen Peoples, TxDOT’s Interim Motorcycle Safety Project Manager.
“This includes making sure that all motorcycle safety trainers and instructors have access to professional development opportunities,” said Peoples. “We need more and better qualified instructors to meet the growing demand for rider training courses, especially now that everyone must complete the course to get a motorcycle license or endorsement.”
“We are very excited to be working with TxDOT to improve rider safety,” Turner said. “We’ve made a lot of progress over the past several years, but motorcyclists still account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, so it’s important that we continue our efforts.”
The Center’s motorcycle projects include:
Increasing recruitment/retention of motorcyclist safety training instructors
This project addresses the need for a more efficient way to deliver training and recertification to qualified motorcycle safety course instructors and trainers. TTI will work collaboratively with TxDOT and Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) to conduct eight regionally diverse professional development workshops. TTI will also will film and produce several “on-bike” training videos to use in a web-based motorcycle safety instructor certification program currently under development.
Statewide motorist awareness and motorcycle safety outreach
Over several years, TTI has worked with TxDOT and the TxDPS to develop and promote public information messages and educational materials for drivers and riders to improve motorcyclist safety and reduce the number of motorcycle crashes and related injuries. This project continues these efforts through the implementation of a statewide motorist awareness and motorcyclist safety outreach program. The project includes updating / developing motorist and rider awareness materials, including those associated with the “Share the Road,” “Take the Course,” “Ride Safe,” and “Drink.Ride.Lose.” campaigns; facilitating meetings, including the annual motorcycle safety forum, for the Texas Motorcycle Safety Coalition (TMSC), Board, and standing committees; maintaining and updating the motorcycle safety website, www.looklearnlive.org ; and distributing and promoting campaign materials and messages at public events, motorcycle gatherings, rallies, and conferences.
Texas law enforcement motorcycle safety and enforcement training course conversion
Law enforcement play a significant role in reducing unsafe motorcycle riding through the enforcement of traffic laws and the promotion of safe riding behaviors and safe driving practices around motorcycles. Under a FY 2011 grant, TTI developed the State of Texas Law Enforcement Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Training course. The course informs officers about motorcycle laws, safety issues, and enforcement strategies to aid in reducing motorcycle crashes and injuries. This project involves the conversion of the classroom-based curriculum into a web-based training (WBT) program with the goal of reaching a larger number of Texas peace officers more efficiently.