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View Full Version : Does Training Work? Smarter-USA



teddillard
02 October 2013, 1018
Interesting site, with more links to more PDF reports that I had time to read this morning: Smarter-USA.org (http://www.smarter-usa.org/research/crash-prevention-initiatives/)

One report was surprisingly inconclusive. Not that the studies had been done and they didn't know what to conclude, but that not enough real data was out there. Lemmee see. Here it is, via Kneeslider (http://thekneeslider.com/does-motorcycle-training-reduce-motorcycle-accidents/).

"The George Institute for Global Health, located in Australia, did an analysis of worldwide studies to determine what type of motorcycle rider training is most effective in reducing accidents. Their conclusion? No one has a clue. The effectiveness of training, whether before or after you get your license, simply isn't known from the evidence available."

podolefsky
02 October 2013, 1109
Interesting - some good points about "who is riding" being a big factor. Still, from all the other discussions, I'm getting the point pretty loud and clear that even if the statistics are lacking, taking a class or two is a damn good idea.

frodus
02 October 2013, 1321
I'm gonna sign up for the advanced rider course from Team Oregon in spring if I can get in.

Spaceweasel
02 October 2013, 1459
I'm planning on an advanced rider course in the spring to brush up on some dormant skills. Maybe some track time, too, if I can work it out.

podolefsky
02 October 2013, 1529
Was thinking about this while driving my very safe (for me) car...

I'm sure track time can make you a faster rider. But on balance, does track time make you a safer rider? I've never done a track day, so I have to admit ignorance. Maybe it's as simple as "yes". But I was thinking, a lot of what people do on the track is try and go as fast as they can. Then they take that to the street, where, it seems to me, you should have a different mindset - that is, riding safely. Having fun, but not pushing your limits. The "muscle memory" you develop on the track might train you to ride too close to the edge. Or, maybe you hone your skills near the limit, and then if you can make yourself turn it down several notches on the street you're better for it. Or maybe you get your kicks on the track and it makes it easier to tone it down otherwise.

Just something I was thinking about.

Spaceweasel
02 October 2013, 1539
Some of the same lessons that translate from dirt riding also apply to track learning - you can hone certain skills (threshold braking, lean angles, traction modulation) in a more forgiving environment than on the street. Plus, I would agree with the idea of getting your kicks out, and then being able to slow it down on the street. Knowing how you and your bike behave at the limit is valuable knowledge, and can be fun to acquire - but exploration of limits on the street can have some dire consequences.

teddillard
02 October 2013, 1541
(^ what he said. Dirt riding is the most basic translation of how a bike wants to handle and how to handle it.)

My -opinion- is yes. Without any doubt at all. You're pushing the whole system, if you will, to it's extreme, in a relatively safe environment, to a point far beyond what you can do, or should do, on the road. When things go wrong you learn what the best thing to do is, and what the bad things are.

A stupid simple example, learning to handle a car in the snow. I was lucky to learn to drive in the country, in an orchard town. We'd get snow, we'd all jump into our cars and bomb around parking lots, roads, whatever, doing drifts, skids, just having a blast, but also learning how to drive. You have to be able to make mistakes to learn - anything.

When you're just driving, unobserved, on the road you can have every idea you can think of for "what you would do if...". On a track, you can try it out, and see if it's really what you should be doing. Ever try to describe steering into a skid to someone who's never skidded?

As far as de-tuning what you know for the street, again, due respect, but when you take a class you'll get how much respect it gives you for what you're doing. When you see your buddy flying over the haybales on the track you'll think a little clearer about hanging your balls out in the canyon on a blind (decreasing radius, for all you know) curve. I'll use the gun analogy again. You take a gun safety class and learn what can happen, you have a hell of a lot more respect for how you handle a gun.

podolefsky
02 October 2013, 1740
Makes sense to me.

The one little thing is about your buddy (or you) flying over the hay bales. What about people getting hurt at the track? Seems like people can learn to ride on the street and stay out of trouble, for the most part, whereas crashing is pretty much the accepted norm at the track. Even though it's safer to crash there, it's not exactly safe. I guess there's a difference between dirt and asphalt, but neither is very fun to hit with your head.

Not trying to argue - actually thinking if I were to go to a track day, what would I do? Would I be out there going 100+ mph? Or driving like I would on the street, just knowing there weren't any cars.

jonescg
02 October 2013, 1826
I do know that here in Australia, the Monash University Accident Research Centre ran a big study on motorcycle safety. They asked for submissions from various organisations. Many motorcyclists, both individuals and representative groups made submissions with the overwhelming response form long-term riders was "real world training and track days". There is no substitute for experience, so the best way to get experience is to get out and ride in the safest environment possible.

They rejected the suggestions out of hand :confused:

podolefsky
02 October 2013, 2103
Getting back to the OP - I read through the papers on that site (at least the ones that had working links). Long(ish) post below:

I know this is a touchy subject - this is my summary of what I found, trying to be as objective as I possibly can. I'm not trying to be argumentative - just informative from what the science seems to say.

A little background: I've been studying human learning for over 10 years, and one thing I've learned is that the ultimate test of whether something "works" is if there is evidence. Over and over again, learning researchers have found that teaching methods and courses that people thought worked great didn't actually work at all. A lot of the time, both the students and the teachers thought learning was happening until they were actually tested. Often, even when students can perform well on the specific things they are taught, they can't do tasks that are just slightly different, even when "experts" see both tasks as essentially the same.

The results in those papers are interesting, and kind of disappointing. Disappointing in that one would really want training courses to be really effective. There seems to a serious lack of evidence that training courses reduce accidents. Not that there haven't been studies, just that most of them show no difference. In some of the studies, they actually found that accidents were higher for people who had taken a training course. But it's a correlation, not necessarily causation. It could be that those people were more prone to accidents for some reason.

I looked around and found another interesting paper here (http://www.vicnapier.com/Risk/teaching_the_amygdala.htm). Seems possible that the repetitive, short duration of the practice in training courses might not be ideal. That's actually similar to other types of learning - it's much better to have sustained practice over the long term (like months) than a "crash course" over a few days, especially for "deep learning", or skills that require consistent practice. There is also some evidence that training can make people overestimate their true skill, which could cause them to take more risks and thus have more accidents - which would explain the counter intuitive results that people who had taken courses had higher accident rates.

The one finding that supports training courses is from the paper here (http://www.nmcti.org/docs/articles/outside/Billheimer_2001.pdf). For beginners with less than 500 miles of riding experience, riders who had training had fewer accidents - half as many, which is huge. But, for riders with more than 500 miles of riding experience, there was no difference in accident rates between trained and untrained riders. There's a table summarizing other studies - only two found a reduction in accidents from training, and the differences were slight. Others found no difference, or higher rates for trained riders. So, on the one hand, it says that beginners DO benefit from training. But it also suggests that even slightly experienced riders might not get any benefit, or worse.

To be sure, these are basic training courses. I didn't find anything about advanced courses or track training with a professional...those could be very effective, there just isn't data that I could find.

There is apparently a long term study conducted by MSF that started in 2007. I searched and searched but couldn't find any data from it. Should be interesting, since I think it is the first long term, randomized study on the effect of training courses.


I'm still going to take a course or track days or whatever seems like it will make me a better, safer rider. In spite of all this stuff above, it seems like a good idea.

teddillard
03 October 2013, 0229
Yeah, you're far too predictable. :D (I was hoping you'd read all that stuff and tell us what it meant. I tried, and got lost pretty fast in the language, but at best it did seem inconclusive.) I am, though, waiting for the results of the MSF stuff. It was mentioned on the BikeSafer link I posted a week ago or so, as well.

Right, the problem is partly correlation/causation it seems to me. It would be pretty hard to get good information, I'd think, without a really long-term study. Also, it's not like any rider is going to go out and have a couple of accidents a year, right? So it's hard to see direct results within any reasonable time frame for a study, I'd suspect.

On "what would you do?" at the track, you'd learn technique, then get to practice it on the track. If you want to push the envelope you're going to crash. If you simply want to hone skills, you won't, probably. Yes, you can get hurt. You'd also have guys who know their **** watching you and telling you to do stuff, not do stuff, and how to do stuff better.

I'm also going to say something I don't want to be construed as argumentative or insulting, and I hesitate to do so because of our personal dynamic... (the t&n show, aforementioned... :D) Your mishap - you at one point asked me for advice about how to avoid it in the future. It sounds like the rear end simply spun out when you were making a right turn from a stop.

That kind of thing is something that we used to practice hour after hour on our dirt bikes. From a stop, jack the throttle, stand on the outside peg, plant your foot and spin it around. Do the same thing with both feet up. Try (and horribly fail) to do it with the front wheel in the air, and ****... you get the idea. Your friends stand by and hold up numbers rating your roostertail... lol. (Any jackass can do a donut, it's pulling out of the donut at a 90 that's the fun part.)

On a light dirt bike you can control it a lot easier and when it comes down it's not going to hurt quite as bad. It also is built for that, so you can control it. But you learn the reflexes, and you learn what is happening. It also happens by degrees, for lack of a better way to describe it. On a street bike, it can either be "on" or "off", if you know what I mean.

So, on the street, this starts to happen and you're completely unaware of what's happening - you're working on simple "don't let me die" reflexes, or in your case, mountain bike reflexes. The bike starts to spin out. You're likely partly still sitting on the seat, maybe with your left foot up, making the right. Your weight, because it's so high and the bike's at such an angle pushes the rear out faster. You may have a lot of weight, reflexively, on your right foot now, which means you're now in one place while the bike is walking away from you. Now, it's twisting the throttle more - that AC20 is getting into it's happy place. This all happens in an instant. Does that sound at all likely? I don't know, I'm just guessing based on what you've said and crashing like that a million times. That throttle thing happens on hill climbs almost 100% of the time, and the reflex is to grab the clutch to disengage the power.

Far from being a freak accident, it's one of the most basic moves on a dirt bike. Have I had that happen to me? On the street, no, not ever. Yes, on a green road, or with wet leaves, I've squirted the rear end out a bit and caught myself but I've never gone down because of it. Like I said, I always gauge how close a call I'm having by how much I feel like I'm on a dirt bike again.

How about this? A good, standard, MSF Advanced class for a few hundred bucks, and then go dirt riding with some friends on a borrowed (do they rent them?) bike. At least then you'd see what we're talking about.

Ken Will
03 October 2013, 0431
IMHO: why training doesn't reduce accidents.

People tend to keep the same safety margin of their limits. That means they tend to take the same percentage of risk as their skills improve.

Someone that feels safe at 90% of his perceived limits as a beginner will still feel safe and ride at 90% of his new perceived limits as he becomes a much better bike rider.

Training will make you more accurate at perceiving your limits, but sometimes makes you over confident. ( especially men in their late teens and twenties.)

teddillard
03 October 2013, 0504
As a friend of mine is fond of saying, "Apropos of nothing..." while waiting for a conference to start I thought of a comment a friend made when we were skiing the bumps. The guy is 20 years my senior, and I was in pretty close to the best shape of my life, and he was kicking my ass.

"If you know how to ski, it doesn't really matter what kind of shape you're in. If you don't know how to ski, well, it doesn't really matter what kind of shape you're in."

If you can figure out how this applies to this thread, you're a better man than I... :D

podolefsky
03 October 2013, 0822
Glad to be of service :D The academic researcher actually comes in handy sometimes...

Yeah, that sounds plausible on what happened to me. Definitely I was turning right - that much I remember. Definitely the rear slid out. And definitely I didn't keep in upright. It's interesting to think about, but to be honest I'm not sure analyzing it will help me stop it again, other than saying be more careful. That second article on the amygdala really got me thinking (not with my amygdala). People talk about "muscle memory", but the memory isn't in your muscles, it's in your brain. They're automatic responses that happen without conscious thought, and it comes through repeated practice. The psychology research says that repeated practice has to be over a long time, not in one "crash course". That's why I wouldn't be that surprised if basic safety courses don't stop accidents. At least not the ones where you need your brain to function automatically. A couple days just isn't enough time for that sort of learning to sink in.

But, I imagine you will learn things you can do with your conscious brain that will keep you safe. Plus things like protective clothing and other stuff that pure noobs might not know. That's probably why the pure beginners (<500 miles) benefited from a course. That result alone is enough to convince me new riders should take a course. I should have.

Riding dirt bikes looks like a ton of fun. Hell, even pros ride dirt for training. Although, I think I heard a quote from Rossi where he said he stopped riding dirt bikes because he didn't want to get hurt...

teddillard
03 October 2013, 0937
>conference lunch break. this social networking is pretty tough when you're basically anti-social :D<

Yeah, the idea of any class that's a one-shot is to find out what you should be doing and then practice it every time you ride. That's what builds muscle memory, and why bad habits are so hard to break. They're even harder if you don't know what you're doing wrong. For instance - seating and foot position. Even if I'm riding every day, I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm getting sloppy, etc. Braking - thinking about the braking balance.

And yeah, my friend George, from my dirt days? He was on his way to semi-pro MX and just stopped when I went to college. He said it just hurt too damn much... but that was competition, and before the body armor that's available today. Hell, if we'd been able to suit up like Iron Man like you can today, we would have done really stupid **** and would all be dead now. :cool: But it's a far cry from that and popping around on a dirt bike in a gravel pit.

Oof. Back to the conference... It's actually great, and the next session is all about the EV auto industry. Looking forward to it... kind of...