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VI. RESULTS FROM SITE VISITS

Effective Training and Delivery

Meeting demand for training while still maintaining high quality is one of the key challenges faced by the five promising-practices programs. The first step in meeting demand is registering students for classes. In Delaware and Idaho, registration is centralized through the State rider education offices. When students want to register for a class, they do so directly with the State program. The Idaho STAR online registration system allows prospective students to see exactly how many spots are still open in each course throughout the training season. Moreover, students can register for any courses offered across the State directly through the Web site. The administrator for the Delaware Motorcycle Safety Program manually updates course enrollment on a daily basis but hopes to move to a more interactive and automated system in the near future.

In Maryland, Nevada, and Oregon, most students register for courses through the training site (usually a community college) where the class will be held. Shifting registration responsibility to the training sites reduces administrative burden placed on the rider training program, but it can result in complications for students. In Nevada and Oregon and at some training sites in Maryland, when registration is managed by community colleges, students must first enroll as students in the college and then register for the training course. The intermediary step of registering in the college surprised some students who expected to be able to simply enroll directly in a training class. Several students expressed frustration that they had to wait for the community college to process their application before they could enroll in a training course. The delay was especially aggravating because the courses fill so quickly. The rider training programs in Maryland, Nevada, and Oregon were aware of these difficulties and are seeking ways to centralize registration across the training sites.

Demand for training is high across the five promising-practices States, and the programs have taken a series of steps aimed at reaching interested students. All the programs encourage students unable to register for a particular course to visit the first day of training in case registered students do not show up. Some students noted that they did not pursue the walk-in option because it requires a significant time commitment without the guarantee of a place in the course. As one student explained, “Scheduling is important for me—I can’t just stop in on the first day and wait.”

The Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program has also tried to maximize the flexibility of its course schedules and availability of instructors to provide additional training opportunities for students. In the words of one administrator:

“We allow training centers to have some flexibility in what happens.... We
work with standby [students] and keep some instructors on call. There’re
lots of examples of creative scheduling that we give to the sites, and some
sites come up with their own. Our theory is, if we have the equipment out in
the training centers, let’s try to use it seven days a week. Let’s maximize
that use and look at how we can schedule. What also comes into play is
when we can use it. [Licensing] branch offices we can use after 5:30. At
some community colleges in the summer, we can do daytime [classes].”

Some training sites in Maryland and Oregon also increase enrollment in the classroom component and then divide the class in half for range exercises. Through creative scheduling, one community college in Maryland is able to train 72 students in a weekend on three ranges. The college loads 24 students into three classes and staggers their schedules so six groups of 12 students have access to the range at different times. The Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program also targets particular months of the training season for addition classes. As an administrator explained:

“We call April through June our ‘Front Row.’...We realize that everyone
wants to [be trained] first thing in the year. Last year through creative
[and] aggressive scheduling, we were able to maximize the number of spots
in classes in the Front Row. Last year we increased our capacity over 20
percent.”

Administrators in Maryland and Oregon also mentioned a goal of obtaining portable lights or a lighted site to provide evening training options.

In Nevada and Oregon, mobile training units provide classes to students outside the major metropolitan areas. The Nevada Rider Motorcycle Safety Program recently obtained a classroom trailer with a whiteboard, tables and chairs, and the capacity to transport all the motorcycles and equipment needed for classes. With the trailer, the program will be able to ensure that all State residents can receive training within a two-hour drive. Team Oregon has three mobile units that service 11 sites across the State, with a goal of providing training every 45 days in each community. Students in both States register for mobile classes directly through the State rider education program.

Student focus groups in each promising-practices State revealed that the demeanor and attitude of instructors were essential components of effective training. Students commented that they felt more engaged in the class and had more fun because instructors encouraged participation and maintained a relaxed atmosphere. One student in Nevada remarked, “We’re allowed to have some humor too. It’s a very close class—the instructors get into it the same as we do. They joke with us and they’re real friendly; easy to get along with.” Students particularly enjoyed when instructors used personal testimonies to illustrate points made in the course material.

In Delaware and Maryland, the rider training programs believe that they are meeting or almost meeting demand, though both States continue to look for ways to increase their efficiencies and expand course availabilities. Administrators in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon expressed concern about rising demand for training in their States and pointed to one clear factor that limits their ability to offer classes: lack of range and classroom space. Potential sites must have a specified size of clear asphalt that is clear of obstructions. Sites also need to be available on Sunday, which often excludes church parking lots. “We could fill up more classes if we had the locations,” one administrator commented.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Students in Delaware and Idaho register directly with the State program for training courses.

  • Students in Maryland, Nevada, and Oregon register through the training sites. Although the administrative burden is reduced for the program, students expressed frustration with decentralized registration.

  • Programs in Maryland and Oregon attempt to maximize the flexibility of training by increasing the number of students in the classroom and dividing the class for range exercises. Maryland also increases the number of classes it offers early in the training season.

  • Nevada and Oregon use mobile training sites to provide training to students in rural areas.

  • Students appreciated a relaxed, informal training environment and instructors who illustrated course material with personal experiences.

  • Administrators in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon identified the lack of range and classroom space as the biggest problem to overcome to meet demand.

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