Investigating the vulnerability of motorcyclists to crashes and injury

Motorcyclists represent a segment of vulnerable road users that have very high levels of risk mostly because of their lack of protection when involved in a crash. Motorcyclist fatalities in the U.S. increased by 257 from 2015 to 2016, a 5.1% increase. This study will focus on analyzing a unique database of motorcycle crashes, exploring how key risk factors vary by demographics and from one context to another, i.e., the settings in which motorcycle travel takes place. The project will be organized into the following tasks: Task A: Review current literature -- as part of the literature review, the research team will systematically synthesize previous studies and the methodologies used. Gaps in the relevant literature will be identified along with methodological limitations and how they may influence the study findings. Likewise, the team will produce a discussion on how ignoring important methodological issues such as omitted variable biases and unobserved heterogeneity can influence the magnitude of relative risks (or odds ratios) and final inferences. Task B: Access and prepare the motorcycle crash causation study data and propose analysis framework -- this study will focus on a new database that provides very detailed and highly relevant data about motorcycle crashes as well as similarly-at-risk control group. Collected by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the database is known as the Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (MCCS) (FHWA, 2017). Task C: Evaluate risks associated with motorcyclists’ conspicuity-apparel type, apparel conspicuity and helmets -- the study will explore the relationship between motorcyclist conspicuity and crash risk. To do this, the team will focus on separating out the daytime vs. nighttime gear, and how it relates to crash propensity. Task D: Investigate how rider inexperience and age are related to crash outcomes, especially injury crashes -- previous studies have documented the crash “risk curve” for novice drivers (of automobiles) well. The study will establish such a curve for motorcyclists. Task E: Explore how training & education programs are related to crash outcomes -- the effectiveness of different types of recent training programs will be explored. Note that education and training alone cannot eliminate motorcycle crashes. However, quantifying the effects of education and training programs in reducing motorcycle crashes is regarded as a “high-priority” area in the recent U.S. DOT’s National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety (NHTSA, 2013). Task F: Explore how automation may eliminate errors -- given the increasing interest in automation, an exploratory and interesting aspect of the study will be to determine how automation may eliminate some of the errors in the future as drivers and motorcyclists relinquish control of their vehicles. Task G: Consolidate the findings, write a final report, and disseminate the results to stakeholders -- the study will extract valuable information from the data using the appropriate methods for study design. Using technically rigorous methods, this study will quantify how different factors of interest are associated with motorcycle crash risk, while controlling for rider-specific, psycho-physiological, and other observed/unobserved factors.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $80,000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Chapel Hill, NC  United States  27514
  • Project Managers:

    Sandt, Laura

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Tennessee, Knoxville

    Center for Transportation Research
    Conference Center Building
    Knoxville, TN  United States  37996-4133

    University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center

    730 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard CB # 3430
    Chapel Hill, NC  United States  27599-3430
  • Principal Investigators:

    Khattak, Asad

    Goodwin, Arthur

  • Start Date: 20180501
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210331
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Source Data: Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (MCCS)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01668386
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747113
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: May 2 2018 11:20AM