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II. Methodology
The data presented in this report were collected through multiple sources, including published documents, the Internet, postal and e-mail correspondence, and telephone interviews. Unless otherwise noted, all data reflect rider education programs and licensing practices in calendar year 2001, the most recent year for which published data were consistently available.1 Contact information for State program coordinators applies to the coordinators in place as of November 15, 2003.

The goal of the data collection was to compile comprehensive and accurate information about motorcycle rider education and licensing in three main areas of interest: program administration, rider education, and operator licensing.

  • Program administration refers to the organizational features of the rider education and operator licensing program and covers ultimate and day-to-day program responsibility, legislative provisions, relationships among various programs, and collection of rider training and licensing data.

  • Rider education refers to all training aspects of the program and covers training delivery, operations and participant characteristics, program funding and expenditures, curriculum, Instructor selection, training and evaluation, profile of Instructors, quality-control procedures, and program evaluation.

  • Operator licensing refers to the features in place to obtain a motorcycle operator’s license and covers testing and training responsibilities, knowledge and skills tests used, incentives, operator and vehicle characteristics, motorcyclist licensing system, and public information and education.
States that Reviewed and
Returned Profiles
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
South Dakota

To gather data, project staff began by searching the Internet and assembling a list of State motorcycle rider education and licensing Web sites. The Web sites were carefully reviewed, and relevant data were classified into thematic areas (e.g., source of funding; Instructor selection, training, and evaluation; and quality control procedures) organized within the three main areas of program administration, rider education, and operator licensing. The Internet searches yielded detailed contact information for the State programs as well as data about the structure and relationship among various administering agencies
within a State.

Following the Internet search, project staff examined published documents containing information about State motorcycle program administration, rider training, and licensing procedures. This effort focused primarily on a review of materials from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) and from annual reports from State motorcycle rider education programs. The MSF’s Cycle Safety Information Sheet provided data about State licensing procedures and funding for motorcycle safety programs. Information about program administration and rider training courses was compiled from the SMSA’s State Motorcycle Program Survey and State-issued annual reports.

After reviewing published documents, project staff incorporated the data into draft-status State profiles that were sent to State program coordinators for review. These draft State profiles were organized similarly to those presented in section four of this report. Coordinators were asked to fill in missing portions of the profile and to resolve contradictions in the data. To ensure a high response rate from the States, the profiles were mailed three times and included a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explaining the significance of the study. At the close of data collection from the States on June 25, 2003, 38 of 47 profiles had been returned, an 81-percent response rate.

Though many of the program coordinators provided information not found in published documents or on the Internet, some critical pieces of data were still missing from the profiles. To gather this information, project staff contacted coordinators and licensing agencies by telephone and e-mail and reviewed State Web sites again. If discrepancies still remained between sources, the source that consistently provided data for the field of interest throughout other profiles was used. In the majority of cases, consultation with a representative of the State motorcycle education program or the State agency responsible for licensing resolved the data discrepancies. Despite all these efforts, however, there remain some instances where discrepancies could not be resolved or data could not be provided. “N/A” in the State profiles indicates that data on a specific field were not available (i.e., missing).

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1Appendix B identifies the States and variables that were collected from other years, when necessary.