MSF licensing tests screen out only the bottom 20%–and the BRC doesn’t even do that

Jimmy Jon sent me a comment today that read in part, “Have you ridden the North Carolina “skills test” or “road test”? If you haven’t, take notice that it is administered in a parking lot. Take further notice that this test does not involve either moving or parked traffic while it is administered in a parking lot. Further notice that the test is successfully completed by negotiating the through a cone pattern. Please also note that the testee provides the motorcycle, and this testee is not limited to this motorcycle in the future.”

I responded that it sounded like the Alt-MOST. I thought that perhaps people could use a little background on MSF’s licensing products:

In 1978 MSF published the first in a series of licensing tests, the Motorcycle Operator’s Skill Test (MOST). Shortly thereafter, it came out with an on-road/in-traffic one, the Motorcyclist In Traffic (MIT) test and the Motorcycle Licensing Skills Test (MILT). MSF also trained license-examiners across the country.

It was anticipated by NHTSA—and state DMVs—that the test would be taken on the motorcycle the applicant would be riding on the street. The MOST and MILT tests were so difficult that crashes—some even with broken bones occurred during the testing.

Even so, according to an update published in Safe Cycling, MSF’s then licensing director, Carl Spurgeon, wrote in the Spring 1988 edition, “When testing is administered by a state licensing examiner…only basic skills and abilities are evaluated. To be blunt, these tests screen out the bottom 20 percent or so and send the rest on their way with a license.”

Only the bottom 20% is very discouraging—and it’s even more discouraging that MSF is now paying PIRE to show that the end-of-course-evaluations measure up to the tests at the DMV.

Despite what Jimmy Jon wrote, most of those who go to the DMV take the test on their own bike, it’s more difficult to pass than when taken on a small training bike on a range that the students have been practicing on for two days. Iow, the course may be allowing many of that 20% who would’ve flunked at the DMV to pass in the course.

Jimmy Jon went on to write, “A successful test should be conducted upon a public road, with traffic, and administered by a certified motorcycle rider/tester. The rider must utilise for the test the motorcycle that he will be licensed to drive on the road.”

While I agree only a road test is sufficient to show whether a rider is traffic-ready, I’m not sure that instructors/examiners who have only had MSF-training are any more adequate to the task than the end-of-course evaluations or the current set of MSF tests now used in DMVs across the country.

Explore posts in the same categories: Motorcycle licensing, Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Motorcycle Training, NHTSA

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