Why did MSF break the 3 death story itself?

A commentator on the last entry, CaptCrash, suggested that the news that three more deaths in a single year may be caused because he feels “marginally” older riders are taking the course in poorer physical condition and that may mean health issues. It’s possible. However before the gullible jump to the same conclusion CaptCrash does consider these things:

MSF did not inform the rider ed community about any of the deaths in training except the instructor in Valencia, CA. At that time, the msflist was told by Ray Ochs that further information would be forthcoming—yet it never did.

In MSF-administrated Pennsylvania, MSF kept the fact that one student had been killed and another left a paraplegic from its own instructors let alone the rider ed community.

In the Bystander case, MSF had been reluctant to offer a good settlement until the plaintiff’s attorney received all the injury incident reports—at least 20,000 of them. Immediately after the attorneys got them and before they could examine them, MSF offered almost a million dollars settlement but required confidentiality as a condition of the hefty settlement. And the attorney—while keeping well within his part of the agreement—accidentally revealed that perhaps 2 more deaths had occurred than we knew about.

Last year, Ken Kiphart, then-chair, asked MSF and another major insurers of rider training programs, to submit reports on the injuries in training and those results would be presented at the SMSA discussion on the deaths and injuries in training. From what I’ve been told, MSF was very upset that it was asked to do so and said it would have to consult attorneys before releasing any information.

According to sources, the major insurer turned the report in breaking the crashes down into property-only, minor and severe injuries. At which point, I heard, it was verbally scolded by MSF for doing so—even though MSF has no relationship or authority to do so whatsoever. According to some sources, MSF never turned in a report—though this, of all possible ways, offered TPTB a chance to present their version of events and put them in the best possible light.

From what I further heard, Kiphart couldn’t remember if MSF turned it’s report in or what happened to either report. At any rate, those at the conferences were not informed that the reports had been asked for and certainly didn’t see the results.

Iow, MSF had the opportunity to present information on rider training crashes and injuries and apparently chose not to (or, at best, Kiphart lost critical information—just as he “lost” the critical part of Illinois’ proposal to present a comparison of the BRT v. the BRC—information MSF also feared would reflect badly on its curriculum).

At the SMSA sessions MSF refused to give any factual information about the deaths and would not say how many deaths had occurred but only said they could “confirm” that seven deaths had occurred (which we thought meant the one in 1998 and the six that were referenced in the press release).

So even though up to three additional deaths had occurred by then since the conference occurs almost 3/4ths through the training season MSF did not volunteer the information that more deaths had occurred let alone take the opportunity to explain they were caused by medical conditions while not riding. It is possible that all three happened after the conference, however (though, once again, the attorney in the bystander case seemed to know of 2 of them—and thought they were caused by training crashes).

Even if those deadly three events occurred after the conference, MSF had innumerable opportunities to present the information on those additional deaths through a variety of means: phone calls, faxes, e-mail, Perspectives, Safe Cycling, Learning Centers, Updates, and so forth—yet it took advantage of none of them.

Iow, MSF has had repeated opportunities to present information on crashes and injuries and specifically these three deaths in a year—and position them in the best possible light. Innumerable times MSF made the deliberate choice not to do so.

Rather it ignored repeated and numerous questions from rider educators and administrators at conferences and Learning Centers and in e-mails as well as ignoring numerous discussions on its own instructor listserve and other forums. It claimed it couldn’t talk about them—even to confirming they happened—because of pending litigation and now claims privacy issues.

Additionally, TPTB at and behind MSF have also demonstrated a highly paranoid reaction to all negative publicity and has spent millions and controls its public image obsessively. Buche said it extensively researches everything a journalist has written or a media outlet has published or produced on motorcycling and makes a decision on a case-by-case basis if they will even respond to a request for information.

At the same time—the rider ed/motorcycle safety community only knew of six deaths from 2002 until now. No one knew of these three medical-not-while-riding deaths.

That’s the context, then, of this “press release” and the “letter” that was sent to state and military administrators.

So why the gigantic sea change? Why would a highly paranoid, controlling corporation not only address the deaths now—but far from just confirming that deaths we knew about it reveal three new ones?

And why would they claim it was because of “an inquiry”—and after a decade of paranoia vetting of all media people, choose a fellow with an obscure new blog who admits he has no qualifications to be discussing such things and has a known reputation of being not only ignorant of all things motorcycle safety/ed-related but  an Internet Troll of a particularly offensive nature?

And given that MSF claims, in the press release, that there’s misinformation out there on the deaths—why didn’t they correct anything that’s been written about the deaths and, instead, reveal three new deaths, present it in a way that does not eliminate crashes as the precipitating event?

And then, having implied that these three new deaths were different why didn’t TPTB not give the causes such as the ones CaptCrash raised—heat and heart—and eliminate the speculation that was sure to follow the vague press release/letter?

Why, oh, why now—when they could’ve kept silent as they have in the past—did they choose to get out front in this story?

So could it be that something like heart or heat is the cause? It’s possible—but in the next entry, we’ll look at other ramifications of MSF’s press release.

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


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8 Comments on “Why did MSF break the 3 death story itself?”

  1. CaptCrash Says:

    HEY! I “wondered” and engaged in conjecture…and I “wouldn’t be surprised” by extraneous health issues coming into play.

    Given that the MSF is reluctant (noted above) to release information about accidents–how does one even report a non-bike related medical emergency? If a student keels over on a break, I’d call 911, AND the boss and do what I’m told. I can’t think of anything in the MSF training regarding this issue (I was trained on the RSS cirriculum–and am lucky enough to be associated now with the TOMS system). Is there a reporting mechanism in place for reporting non-bike related emergencies?

    Likewise, do they release information about student demographics? I guess I can take it on faith that the demo being trained is the same as it’s always been I’d like to see real numbers.

  2. wmoon Says:

    I wouldn’t take it personally, if I were you. I said that it was a possibility and didn’t criticize you at all. All incidents that require medical attention have to be reported to MSF within 48 hrs, as I understand it. You would have to fill out paperwork and your administrator notify MSF. They ave perfectly able to tell rider educators what is happening. Your state administrator is perfectly able to determine how the demographics have changed or not. That MSF doesn’t chose to do so and state adminstrators haven’t bothered to determine how things are changing says everything about them and nothing about you.

  3. CaptCrash Says:

    No blood no foul. I have been overly nervous about student’s physical condition alot in the last few years–it’s an issue that we kind of ignore. I have had a more mature lady “counsel” herself out when I asked how she was doing…And students who have failed the riding eval have complained that they were too physically “drained” and that “wasn’t fair”.

    I’m probably overly sensative about it…

  4. wmoon Says:

    I’m glad that you are aware of the student’s physical condition! I wish more were. You can always tell students who felt they failed because they were drained to make sure they’re well-rested and feeling good before they go to the DMV since MSF claims the test at the DMV is equivalent to the end-of-course evals, the students should do just fine if energy is the only problem. ; )

  5. gymnast Says:

    It is my opinion that the three “non riding deaths during training” cited by MSF are nothing less than an intentional obfuscation and attempt to “turn the page to another subject”. The combination of harsh summer conditions where high heat as well as high humidity in certain parts of the country, standing around in protective gear, sitting on stationary bike with the engines radiating heat, students of “uncertain general health status” and so forth are not a problem directly attributable to the MSF.

    There are times when conditions for instruction are such that it is wise to cancel instruction. What are the MSF guidelines for such situations? What is included in instructor training pertaining to such situations? What is the responsibility of the instructor? His supervisors? Who is left “holding the bag” when a student keels over and dies, or passes out with heat stroke or a diabetic episode?

  6. wmoon Says:

    I would suggest that whether it’s weather or whatever, the instructor is always responsible to be aware of how each and every student is doing and notice these situations developing before it gets to a deadly occurrence. I know that if one my downhill skiing students got frostbite or one of my writing students started showing signs of a heart attack, my employers would consider I had failed in a critical part of my responsibilities.

  7. Mark Says:

    I would propose that any beginner training with a death or disability rate, should be cause for concern. What will happen when (“We’re especially excited to announce the new Street RiderCourses, as there’s no substitute for being in real traffic,” Ochs said.)the beginner riders, with a brand new license, ride inappropriate bikes with rider coaches on the street and in traffic if they are dying before they get the license or ride on the street for the first time?

  8. wmoon Says:

    Mark–very good point.

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