Not your parent’s Kodak moment: MSF’s requirement to take pictures

Item #42 on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Incident Report is “Picture Requirement”—which is not required in the Pennsylvania motorcycle safety program but is required in the California one MSF administrates.

“Photographs to be taken for any incident where the student received an injury meeting the definition of a severe or fatal injury. Do not move the motorcycle from its point of rest prior to taking the photographs” [Bolding in original text].

Horse retorted, “What if the motorcycle is on the student—they’re supposed to leave it while they take photos?”

That’s not an idle question—in the fall of 2007 at the Sugar Notch site in the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Program, a student failed to make a turn and ran-off the range, hit a berm and she and the bike became airborne, she hit her head on a rock and when her body came to rest, the motorcycle landed on top of her. She’s a quadriplegic now.

The requirement doesn’t specify what should or shouldn’t be photographed, however, if documenting motorcycle damage was the goal, standing it upright so that pictures can be taken of all sides would be the logical action.

This requirement suggests the Motorcycle Safety Foundation believes severe injury and fatal crashes have such a high probability of occurring in any given class on any given day—that the camera has to be there. As Horse said, “If it’s required, then [severe injury and fatal crashes are] expected.”

Range cards, check. Water, check. Camera, check.

There is no requirement to take any other kind of photos—group, individual, etc. as Harley-Davidson’s Rider’s Edge does. However, the picture requirement also indicates MSF expects instructors to have a camera not just with them but close enough during range sessions that it can be used in a timely manner. And that means a camera has to be available at every session of every course since such events can’t be predicted.

And that means the instructors have to coordinate who is to bring one or one has to be kept on site. Either way planning and preparation is required: working and extra batteries and enough film or memory available.


The requirement necessitates instructors to treat the camera like range cards, a whistle, a hat, suntan lotion, water, food and any of other things the instructor brings along. Or, if kept at the site, the manager has to treat it like gasoline, spare parts, etc. Either way, those are elements that have ordinary, innocuous and even safety implications. They also need planning and preparation—but there’s not necessarily an Motorcycle Safety requirement about each of them.

Unlike those items, though, the camera has no other purpose to be at the course than to document violent crashes because MSF expects a lawsuit as a result.

Premeditation implies foreknowledge

The picture requirement specifically suggests the Motorcycle Safety Foundation knows that training is far more dangerous now that in the past and severe and fatal crashes have much higher probability of occurring than it has led rider educators, motorcyclists and the general public to believe.

What MSF is most concerned about

The 2007 Pennsylvania Update spent time going over the new incident report form that, for the first time, included boxes for possible head injury, possible life-threatening injury and death.

The 2008 Update spent time once again telling instructors how to fill out the form.

The 2009 Update spent one hour going over the Legend—which explained in written form what had been presented verbally for the previous two years.

Iow, at least three hours have been spent at PAMSP Updates going over how to fill out a form after an injury crash has occurred. This, instructors were told, was just CYA. An abundance of caution so that the worst doesn’t happen.

But the very worst had already happened in 2007. A few months after the new incident form began to be used in Pennsylvania, those boxes were needed: A student was killed at the Honesdale High School site and another student had a crash that resulted in quadriplegia at the Sugar Notch site.

MSF, then, spent hours telling the instructors how to fill out the form hasn’t spent even five minutes to discuss how such injuries are occurring or how to prevent them.

And that seems to indicate MSF finds lawsuits the most dangerous thing of all.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Motorcycle Training, Motorcycle training lawsuits, State Motorcycle Safety Programs, Uncategorized

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