Development and formative evaluation of a motorcycle rider training intervention to address risk taking

Rowden, Peter John (2012) Development and formative evaluation of a motorcycle rider training intervention to address risk taking. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The need to address on-road motorcycle safety in Australia is important due to the disproportionately high percentage of riders and pillions killed and injured each year. One approach to preventing motorcycle-related injury is through training and education. However, motorcycle rider training lacks empirical support as an effective road safety countermeasure to reduce crash involvement. Previous reviews have highlighted that risk-taking is a contributing factor in many motorcycle crashes, rather than merely a lack of vehicle-control skills (Haworth & Mulvihill, 2005; Jonah, Dawson & Bragg, 1982; Watson et al, 1996). Hence, though the basic vehicle-handling skills and knowledge of road rules that are taught in most traditional motorcycle licence training programs may be seen as an essential condition of safe riding, they do not appear to be sufficient in terms of crash reduction. With this in mind there is considerable scope for the improvement of program focus and content for rider training and education. This program of research examined an existing traditional pre-licence motorcycle rider training program and formatively evaluated the addition of a new classroom-based module to address risky riding; the Three Steps to Safer Riding program. The pilot program was delivered in the real world context of the Q-Ride motorcycle licensing system in the state of Queensland, Australia. Three studies were conducted as part of the program of research: Study 1, a qualitative investigation of delivery practices and student learning needs in an existing rider training course; Study 2, an investigation of the extent to which an existing motorcycle rider training course addressed risky riding attitudes and motives; and Study 3, a formative evaluation of the new program.

A literature review as well as the investigation of learning needs for motorcyclists in Study 1 aimed to inform the initial planning and development of the Three Steps to Safer Riding program. Findings from Study 1 suggested that the training delivery protocols used by the industry partner training organisation were consistent with a learner-centred approach and largely met the learning needs of trainee riders. However, it also found that information from the course needs to be reinforced by on-road experiences for some riders once licensed and that personal meaning for training information was not fully gained until some riding experience had been obtained. While this research informed the planning and development of the new program, a project team of academics and industry experts were responsible for the formulation of the final program. Study 2 and Study 3 were conducted for the purpose of formative evaluation and program refinement.

Study 2 served primarily as a trial to test research protocols and data collection methods with the industry partner organisation and, importantly, also served to gather comparison data for the pilot program which was implemented with the same rider training organisation. Findings from Study 2 suggested that the existing training program of the partner organisation generally had a positive (albeit small) effect on safety in terms of influencing attitudes to risk taking, the propensity for thrill seeking, and intentions to engage in future risky riding. However, maintenance of these effects over time and the effects on riding behaviour remain unclear due to a low response rate upon follow-up 24 months after licensing.

Study 3 was a formative evaluation of the new pilot program to establish program effects and possible areas for improvement. Study 3a examined the short term effects of the intervention pilot on psychosocial factors underpinning risky riding compared to the effects of the standard traditional training program (examined in Study 2). It showed that the course which included the Three Steps to Safer Riding program elicited significantly greater positive attitude change towards road safety than the existing standard licensing course. This effect was found immediately following training, and mean scores for attitudes towards safety were also maintained at the 12 month follow-up. The pilot program also had an immediate effect on other key variables such as risky riding intentions and the propensity for thrill seeking, although not significantly greater than the traditional standard training. A low response rate at the 12 month follow-up unfortunately prevented any firm conclusions being drawn regarding the impact of the pilot program on self-reported risky riding once licensed.

Study 3a further showed that the use of intermediate outcomes such as self-reported attitudes and intentions for evaluation purposes provides insights into the mechanisms underpinning risky riding that can be changed by education and training. A multifaceted process evaluation conducted in Study 3b confirmed that the intervention pilot was largely delivered as designed, with course participants also rating most aspects of training delivery highly.

The complete program of research contributed to the overall body of knowledge relating to motorcycle rider training, with some potential implications for policy in the area of motorcycle rider licensing. A key finding of the research was that psychosocial influences on risky riding can be shaped by structured education that focuses on awareness raising at a personal level and provides strategies to manage future riding situations. However, the formative evaluation was mainly designed to identify areas of improvement for the Three Steps to Safer Riding program and found several areas of potential refinement to improve future efficacy of the program. This included aspects of program content, program delivery, resource development, and measurement tools. The planned future follow-up of program participants' official crash and traffic offence records over time may lend further support for the application of the program within licensing systems. The findings reported in this thesis offer an initial indication that the Three Steps to Safer Riding is a useful resource to accompany skills-based training programs.

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ID Code: 64240
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Watson, Barry & Haworth, Narelle
Keywords: motorcycle, powered-two-wheeler, rider training, rider education, driver training, driver education, brief intervention, risk taking, risky riding, formative evaluation, road safety
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2013 05:45
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 22:31

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