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Thread: BRC's, permit tests, new bikes and a death.... :(

  1. #1
    Registered User xp8103's Avatar
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    BRC's, permit tests, new bikes and a death.... :(

    http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/s...010-04-12.html

    So completely, terribly and utterly sad.



    The story reports that she "...received her license the previous weekend;" Interesting because DMV doesn't give license road tests on weekends here in Maine. It's entirely possible that it would be correct to say that she received her permit the previous weekend at one of the BRCs. The report does not state whether she took the two day course that includes riding or the one day, classroom-only course. Either one will net you your rider's permit upon successful completion.



    Of course, there is a comment from some schmoe who brings up how the helmet didn't help.
    Nik #140220 - '88 K75C | '96 R1100RS | '77 R100RS | '06 DL650
    '01 525iT (oOO=00=OOo)

    Helmets don't save lives but loud pipes do?

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    Yep. A sad situation.

    And all too often repeated. Over the past several years there have been more than 5,000 fatalities nationwide each year.

    Unfortunately, in the USA, it's very easy to get a motorcycle license. The Basic RiderCourse offered to newbies in most states is made "touchy-feely" to ease a new rider into the idea of riding. But, it's only a two-day course, and there's only so much a training site can cram into two days. So, it was a good idea to take a course, but I'd have to say the course let her down.

    There have been other such crashes where the new rider crossed the centerline. That indicates to me that our current training courses don't spend enough time on steering control, especially the role of countersteering and how, why, and when it must be applied.

    Fatalities such as this will continue to happen until we have more comprehensive training. We've allowed the motorcycle industry in the USA to dictate that training and licensing must be ridiculously easy to make it easy to buy and own a motorcycle. And we must endure the resulting carnage, increased attention from bureaucrats, higher insurance premiums, and so forth.

    If anyone is truly interested in helping new riders avoid crashes like this, I suggest the first step is to take back your state motorcycle safety program from the industry, and make the program managers responsible for creating training that actually solves the crash problem, not just training that is convenient to teach. For a model of this, consider TEAM Oregon.

    pmdave

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    otherwise mXarad's Avatar
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    I'd rather die falling off my bike or trying some new
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    learn to forget

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    Registered User jimfastcar's Avatar
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    Licence Ontario

    So, I find myself at the age of 49 (6 years ago), with a desire to ride again, which I had not done since Honda 350 Enduro in my late teens.
    In Ontario, evening classroom, full day parking lot basics, stop-start-turn test (better than I describe), and off you go with a Licence M2, which has to be converted to M withinn 5 years via a supervised Road Test.
    Bought a Harley Dyna, followed by Harley Ultra, and now RT last 3 years.

    Really, it is all the safety reading, the parking lot practice, the prudence of a mature rider, and the prospect of death or injury, not to mention the presence of a Guardian Angel that has kept me alive. Have since done a number of long trips (MOA Wyomimg and Tennessee, Finger Lakes, etc etc) without problem.

    I still feel that something modeled along the lines of the UK system would save a lot of lives.

  5. #5
    Registered User Firenailer's Avatar
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    I think that the MSF course helps quite alot. I know when I got back into riding after a 15 year layoff I took the class and really got alot out of it. The classroom time really helped identify safety issues that I probably would not have considered, being that I had ridden throughout childhood and as a young adult. Granted some of the parking lot stuff is very basic, but they are aiming at true newbies in that first class.
    We all know that we need continuing training by reading, advanced rider classes and track days, but I do think that class is a better way to learn than just having someone ride behind you for awhile.

    Bob

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    Firenailer,

    I highly agree with you that training is much better than just having someone ride along with you. But our national crash and fatality statistics seem to indicate that whatever training riders are getting in the USA is not solving the problem. We have thousands of instructors doing their best to teach new riders, but they are severely limited by the MSF-designed curricula. I see this as a tremendous waste of instructor talent and commitment. I'd love to give them better teaching materials and standards.

    My preference would be for mandatory training (as Oregon is doing now) and a sequence of training courses, starting with something about twice as intensive and comprehensive as the BRC, combined with a textbook to study after class, and followed up in a year or so by a serious course that would include both track time and on-street coaching. I think the UK systems are much better than what we have in the USA.

    I realize that if high quality training were either mandated or required in order to pass a more severe skills and knowledge test, the motorcycle industry would squawk bloody murder. In order to sell more motorcycles, it's better to have touchy-feely training and a test so easy that 99 out of 100 new riders can pass it. But of course, we continue to have serious crashes and fatalities, which is the real bloody murder. More serious training means more serious course fees, and there is the concern that if training/testing is too costly or time consuming, riders wouldn't take it. I'd be willing to take that risk. I think that if getting into motorcycling were more difficult, we would weed out those people who aren't really serious about it. I'm not anti-industry, but as a motorcyclist I realize that what happens on the street affects me personally, and I'd like to see a drastic reduction in crashes and resulting fatalities.

    Again, I suggest that the primary problem with training in the USA is that the motorcycle industry has gotten into the driver's seat, in the guise of "safety." The concept of separate state motorcycle safety programs is fine, because there are differences in the riding environment in different states. But I'd prefer to see very powerful state programs with training and licensing tied to the results. If the fatality numbers go up, more restrictive training/licensing is required. If the numbers go down, training/licensing severety can be reduced. What that means is that each state would be responsible for developing and updating their own training curricula.

    I'm not suggesting that we get as serious about motorcycling as say, Japan. But I would suggest we get much more serious than where we are now. And the first step in that direction is to start lobbying for a stronger state motorcycle safety program--independent of the MSF.

    pmdave

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    Registered User Roadhawk's Avatar
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    I have been an MSF RiderCoach since 1999. The curriculum has changed over the years and some say it has been dumbed-down. Indeed many of us would love to go deeper into the finer points of operating a motorcycle but we really are not given the time. The current class is still good stuff and allows the student much more seat time to feel how the bike works and practice technique.

    One huge problem is allowing any brand new, freshly-endorsed, wide-eyed hopeful rider to walk from the DMV to their local dealer and straddle the biggest, heaviest, fire-breathing behemoth their bank account can withstand. I can't tell you how many students I have had with these monsters waiting for them at homeÔÇôsporting engines larger than some cars I have owned.

    The idea of a tiered system is brilliantÔÇôride a smaller displacement bike for a period of time, then test to go to the next level. Also the opportunity to ride with an instructor in traffic would be so valuable. Great ideas that will never fly here, we are way too attached to the idea that driving/riding is our right and not a privilege we have earned.

    Todays roads have become such an awful place, with complete disregard for other road users. People are more concerned with the number of cup-holders than the handling characteristics of their vehicle. That fact that you are near them on the road has interrupted their attempt to text-message home, nearly causing them to spill their Big-Gulp. How dare you!

    I wish I could be certain that every student I endorse with go forth and make good judgementsÔÇôI think most will. We certainly cannot keep everyone from harms way but until we all accept personal responsibility to take that act of driving/riding seriously not much will change.
    Shawn Wallace
    Maple Grove, MN

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    When I got my cage-license, my father told me that it takes 2 or 3 years of driving with a license before somebody actually knows how to drive. I took that approach and it worked really well.

    My first motorcycle ride (just 3 years ago...) was riding my 75 KZ400 home. I knew I had no idea how to ride that bike, even though I had kicked butt at the rider's course. I had the fun of some debris falling off a truck right in front of me, and part of my brain talked me through. "Brake brake brake! Off brakes, press left, then press right!"

    I've put about 15000 miles on various bikes since, and being a 21 year old on a motorcycle, I've found myself in uncomfortable situations plenty of times since then. Some self inflicted by youth and speed, most just by crazy cages. That same voice shouts "don't grab that brake, just look through the turn!" or whatever is appropriate.

    I read Hough's book a few times before my MSF course, and I think that provided me with "intellectual" instructions, making the MSF course just a practical application of the book.

    I wish that they could make you read the book as part of getting an M license.

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    I remember my first bike and few thousand miles very well. Early 60s, no license requirement, no helmet requirement, no standardized controls, etc Survived first few thousand by sheer luck, finally realizing I was invisible and the world was not filled with homicidal old ladies on the way to church! Bought my first helmet before helmet laws after watching a racer split a Star on a tree and survive- when I expected to see a corpse. Many have not been so lucky and some still think safety gear is too uncomfortable.

    Not an official coach but have trained newbies. For a brief while in the 1960s worked at a dealership that actually refused to sell anything beyond a 125 to a newbie, guaranteeing instead to take the small machine back giving every single dollar in trade on a larger bike after 90 days and up to a year. They simply didn't want to kill someones kid and knew very well that newbies and their parents had no concept of staying alive on 2 wheels! Seemed to work well and the shop always had a few very lightly used small bikes for sale cheap to folks wanting to learn about bikes. That was about the time a Honda 305 was new and a 250 smoker was fast. The fast shop toy was a TD-1 or Bonnie, Gary Nixon stopped by periodically and folks debated whether Nortons or Triumphs were faster. Truly quaint by todays hp and weight standards and people calling a 600cc sportbike a beginners machine.

    Spring is in full swing in NC and the T shirt and shorts squids are already all over the roads here- a town with the highest accident rate in the state due to poor zoning, no decent sign ordinance and an absolute sea of visual clutter. Some of them will be dead by this fall that they think is the end of the riding season (no snow - BMW owners here ride all year for the most part). Doesn't seem to have any impact. Most Americans treat bikes as toys...

    Leery of trying to legislate common sense and sanity and not sure it would do as much as some believe. Foreign examples are not very relevant to the US for a whole lot of reasons from cultural differences to roads and machine usage. Texting while driving is illegal but I still see at least 1 every day. Cell phone users are close to 10% and almost nobody can truly drive a car well because we don't train them either. I do teach on race tracks and also instruct new drivers on how to actually use vehicle controls in "street survival" courses. Next time you are riding realize that 100% of the students I've had can't even use their brake at maximum when instructed to do so- they all act like they're afraid of breaking the car until taught how to use it. My local roads get littered with folks who slide off in the wet on straight interstates! Not at all surprising that new bike riders have limited skills after basic courses like MSF. I question the utility of slow speed skill drills in the real world of 80 mph speed where trained vision is more important than low speed balance. At some point you have to "train like you fight" if you want high quality results and we don't do that. In years past when I taught friends, much of it was at speed, included lots of road time picking lines and apexes. The braking drills extended well into illegal speeds to ensure the panic factor was removed from high speed manuever and vigorous use of controls was understood. I attribute a lot of my street defensive driving skills to habits drilled in by track time well into triple digits and almost none to slow speed practice. Also many to the simply necessity of riding in all weather conditions including snow and ice because I was too poor to own a car until my 30s.

    I also dive and for years routinely did airless ascents from 60 or 80 ft on every dive just to ensure I was used to doing something I might need to do someday for real. Today we skip this emergency training drill because of the very slim chance of an embolism if done right. A few significant airless drills are done in advanced technical diving courses but not for beginners. There is no likelihood we're going to teach control on slick surfaces to beginning bikers. Focussing on avoidance is great but one still has to survive the inevitable oops! Training is dumbed down in everything, not just motorcycles. Folks get shown the controls and left to define and survive the operating envelope on their own.

    I do not see how foreign examples do much to help riders understand the envelope and their own part in staying within it but time and operating under adverse conditions certainly help. In Britain, for example, you can't just ride a bike in dry sunshine on road types of your choice like many Americans do- rain is close to an everyday possibility and the road mix is a certainty that for many includes high speed motorways more dangerous than anything we have here and country roads that are very badly designed from a safety perspective. Spend enough time in that environment and your skills will be better because there is no way to avoid learning from the exposure. And a lot of the Japanese system derives from the govt policy of discouraging vehicle use and ownership because public transport is good and much of the population lives in an environment clogged to the max already.

  10. #10
    Registered User xp8103's Avatar
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    I have ALWAYS believed that the "tiered license" should apply to ALL MV licensing. What I don't understand is how most all the states have a pretty much similar driver-ed/permit/seat time requirement for new drivers including dual time with a licensed driver AFTER they get their permit but a 16 year old can get his new driver's license one day, take an 8-hour MSF permit course and immediately go hop on a GSX-R and tear off down the road???

    What the HELL is wrong with this picture???? Only in a country with a warped sense of entitlement does that make sense. Only in a country where everyone has rights and no one has responsibilities.

    Is there any state where one can get his MC license without having a "car" license? I dont think there is but?? In Maine, the privilege to operate a MC is an endorsement on a MV license, not a separate license.
    Nik #140220 - '88 K75C | '96 R1100RS | '77 R100RS | '06 DL650
    '01 525iT (oOO=00=OOo)

    Helmets don't save lives but loud pipes do?

  11. #11
    Registered User xp8103's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racer7 View Post
    I remember...
    +1

    What he said.

    I had the opportunity to counsel a young friend last week about MC riding. He's a good kid, finishing up his freshman year at UMaryland. Smart kid, valedictorian. We were talking about riding and he said that a friend of his just got a new GSX-R and he had a chance to ride it briefly. He knows how to ride, having grown up with minibikes and ATVs. I had to tell him several times that I understood he knew how to OPERATE a MC but a dirt bike on the trails and a GSX-R on the street were two ENTIRELY different things, sharing only the fact that they were both two wheeled vehicles that shifted in the same way. That on the trails there was almost NO chance that a tree was going to fall right in front of him. He did admit that his parents would kill him if he got a street bike. I told him to take an MSF course and find a decent 250 on-off to get some street skills down.
    Nik #140220 - '88 K75C | '96 R1100RS | '77 R100RS | '06 DL650
    '01 525iT (oOO=00=OOo)

    Helmets don't save lives but loud pipes do?

  12. #12
    Registered User professor's Avatar
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    xp8103 said, "[QUOTE]It's entirely possible that it would be correct to say that she received her permit the previous weekend at one of the BRCs."/QUOTE]

    I can't say for sure about Maine, but in Texas, completion of the BRC does not result in a permit - only a completion certificate that they can take to the DMV and get a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license if they pass the written exam.

    I always tell my graduating students that they have successfully demonstrated their ability to ride 15 mph in a parking lot. Then we talk about the huge difference in doing that and riding on the street.

    I agree that the MSF training could be better, but I can also tell you that I've had several former students tell me that what they learned in the BRC saved them from a crash. It is not ideal, but it helps. About 3 months after my BRC several years ago, I was well into a decreasing radius curve drifting towards the oncoming lane going way to fast for my skill level. My eyes locked onto a white pickup truck in the oncoming lane and it appeared a collision was in my very near future. Then I remembered my BRC instructor telling us that if we found ourselves in this situation, to stop looking at the "target", turn our heads as far around the curve as possible and press harder on the handlebar. I did and my bike leaned over and zipped around the curve with no problem. I think that BRC curriculum and the instructors saved my life.

    The really odd thing about this accident is that it was on a straight part of the road - not on a curve. This isn't a case of going into a curve too hot or failure to counter steer. A sudden swerve into the path of an oncoming car is very strange indeed.

  13. #13
    Registered User xp8103's Avatar
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    Prof:

    The two-day BRC here allows the rider to waive the SOM Road Test if the rider:

    • Holds a valid Maine driver's license
    • Attends all sessions
    • Minimum 80% on the 50 question written exam
    • Passes the skills evaluation
    • Meets all requirements set forth by the SOM and the MSF.


    2 days. 5 hours of class room. 10 hours of riding skills. Except that that is a 10-hour COURSE, not 10 actual riding hours. Between other riders in the class, instructor explanations and course set up what do they get? Maybe 5 hours?

    That's for the TWO -day course which allows you to then get thee to the local DMV and get a license.

    The ONE-day, 8-hour BRC course is all classroom and gives the attendee a permit.

    Either way, the rider is out on ANY bike the following day, on the roads. Have at it!

    BFD? I think the accident rates bare that out.
    Nik #140220 - '88 K75C | '96 R1100RS | '77 R100RS | '06 DL650
    '01 525iT (oOO=00=OOo)

    Helmets don't save lives but loud pipes do?

  14. #14
    Registered User Firenailer's Avatar
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    Those are some well thought out and written responses and I'm enjoying this conversation! I think that I agree most with the writer who spoke of responsibility. When I was an active Fire Fighter I responded to an uncountable number of accident scenes, and it seemed like the majority of them were caused by driver error. Regardless of whether they were drunk, paying attention to something other than driving, or just driving way over their head, it came down to the fact that someone did not act responsibly. I don't know what happened up in Maine, but when one of these drivers and a motorcyclist meet, it's not going to be good for the rider if he hasn't taken the time for training, and even then it's going to be a crap shoot.

    A few years ago I was riding with a group up in the adirondacks during the Americade rally, travelling slightly uphill going into a right hander, along some wooded backroad in the middle of nowhere, when a driver came sliding sideways, out of control into the group at the apex of the turn. Apparently he had swerved off the right shoulder, steered hard left, began sliding, over corrected right and was sliding sideways at impact. The lead rider never had a chance. It honestly happened that quick. The second rider on a trike basically just ditched it off the right side of the road and somehow kept it from rolling, which left me a very small hole on the left to get thru around the still oncoming and spinning auto. I honestly believe that very simple MSF training saved my life or at least some very serious injuries. I actually heard myself in my helmet saying stay on the throttle, veer left, countersteer right! And just as training from my fire acadamy days kicked in as instinct when I needed it, so did what I learned at the BRC that day, and I was safely on the side of the road and going back to help aid the rider and his wife. I later heard that the Rider died on the way to the hospital.

    So back to responsibility, the driver turned out to be drunk, he actually had an open bottle of vodka in the car and was on the way to pick up his small daughter from school.
    I know seeing it happen, there was nothing that rider could have done, and no matter how hard we try, society can't legislate responsibility. The driver was still drunk (and arrested), and the Rider is still dead.

    I don't know what the answer is.

    I read Hough's book and review it now and again, take advanced classes and a track session every few years, and try to practice what I've learned. I just hope I actually have time to use it when I need it. All I can say is = that BRC saved my ass!

  15. #15
    Registered User xp8103's Avatar
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    Fire,

    Great post. As has been said, the BRC is better than no course at all (well.... At least the CW would say that even if the statistics don't) and clearly the vast majority of new riders who take the course get along with their riding lives without too much drama ("too much" being debatable of course.)

    My beef isn't with the BRC per se but in the fact that it is ALL that is required of a new rider before that rider is unleashed on the world to hop on that liter monster or 1800 HD or GPZ or CB-R or whatever.
    Nik #140220 - '88 K75C | '96 R1100RS | '77 R100RS | '06 DL650
    '01 525iT (oOO=00=OOo)

    Helmets don't save lives but loud pipes do?

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