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Human Factors: Motorcyclist Attitudes Table of ContentsHomenhtsa

Motorcyclist Attitudes

Rider Education & Training


Crash Avoidance Skills

Motorcyclist Alcohol & Other Impairment

Personal Protective Equipment


The safety of motorcyclists is affected by their attitudes toward skill development, their ability to practice risk management, and the influence of their riding peers regarding such issues as protective apparel and riding while impaired.

The attitudes of motorcyclists toward safety vary greatly. Some motorcyclists emphasize safety in motorcycling activities while others give it little thought.

Many riders appear to believe in the efficacy of rider training programs to enhance their skill development and increase their safety while riding. The prevalent rider training program in the United States teaches skill development, risk management, the use of protective apparel, and the danger of riding while impaired. However, many riders remain untrained and therefore may miss important safety messages.

Recent work in Australia has addressed the issues of motorcyclists’ hazard perception and risk recognition (Hazard Perception for Motorcycle Riders Conference, 1999). However, there is little in-depth information that specifically addresses the effects of peer pressure, attitudes toward safety, and the individual rider’s ability to recognize risk and react appropriately.

Knowledge of rider peer pressure and motorcyclists’ attitudes toward safety appears to be primarily anecdotal. Peer pressure has been studied extensively regarding teenagers and drug/tobacco/alcohol use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted focus groups directed at alcohol-involved riders that may provide insight into rider behavior and one component of risk recognition (Syner, 2000).


We want to know how to provide motorcyclists with resources that help them form more positive attitudes. To do so, we need to know how they form their attitudes about safety-related issues.

• What sources of information and opinion have the most influence on motorcyclists? How can we harness them to help provide a more effective safety message to positively influence behavior?

• How can we prevent inaccurate information from becoming widely distributed and repeated?

• What are the best methods of providing ready access to accurate, practical information about safety-related issues and encouraging safer behavior?


Understanding how motorcyclists develop their attitudes about safety issues requires research.

• We want to know how motorcyclists form certain attitudes and why they may reject relevant information.

• The most likely methods for learning about motorcyclists' attitudes concerning safety are focus groups, crash research and surveys. Such tools should be designed to explore motorcyclists' attitudes and decision-making processes concerning safety and related issues. This research should include crash-involved riders and representative cross sections of motorcyclists to define attitudes among the population-at-risk.

• The most prevalent sources of influence should be used to help motorcyclists make informed decisions regarding safety issues and to encourage safe behavior. As we identify the most influential sources of positive, accurate information and influence, they should be given additional support.


• Study factors that affect and shape motorcyclists ’ attitudes and behavior and how they affect crash involvement.

• Using information about how motorcyclists form attitudes about safety issues,create programs that reduce dangerous behavior and reinforce safe behavior.

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