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How Can Powersports Training Revolutionize Skills and Safety? Unveiling the Dynamics of Training and Education

How Can Powersports Training Revolutionize Skills and Safety? Unveiling the Dynamics of Training and Education

Tristin Burdick | September 19, 2023

Powersports consumers, both those that are novices to the industry and those that are seasoned within the industry, are eager to expand their knowledge about their vehicles and learn how to operate them safely. Our curiosity led us to believe that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Powersports training and education.

We conducted an extensive research survey to explore attitudes, experiences, and preferences related to powersports training and education. The survey involved a broad cross-section of powersports enthusiasts and provided insights into various facets of training participation, non-participation reasons, training types, satisfaction levels, and future interests.

Participation in Powersports Training

Why would someone undertake a powersports training course in the first place?

Powersports training is essential for various reasons. Firstly, it's designed to enhance rider safety on a particular machine, due to a vehicles high-speed nature, could pose considerable risks if not properly handled. Secondly, these courses offer in-depth instruction about the mechanics of various powersports vehicles, allowing enthusiasts to better maintain and repair their equipment. Finally, training can significantly improve performance, as participants learn techniques to navigate challenging terrain and optimize their vehicle's capabilities. Thus, whether for safety, maintenance, or performance reasons, powersports training is a valuable investment for any enthusiast.

Our survey revealed a significant 74% of respondents have engaged in some form of powersports training. These programs encompass a wide range of formats and specializations, such as basic rider courses, Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses, ATV rider courses, and more.

Interestingly, it's apparent that the majority of powersports consumers see the value in pursuing formal training, recognizing it as an investment in their safety and skill set. This is a testament to the crucial role that training plays not only in promoting responsible and competent riding but also in the continued growth and viability of the powersports industry. Meanwhile, the remaining 26% who have abstained from training courses represent an opportunity for industry stakeholders to bridge the gap, underscoring the need to understand their reasons for non-participation.

Non-participation in Training Courses: Reasons

As mentioned, 26% of participants didn’t take part in any form of powersports training. Understanding the reasons behind non-participation would be helpful in developing effective engagement strategies to boost participation andoffer valuable insights for course developers and industry stakeholders.

Many non-participants, 65%, expressed confidence in their current skill set, suggesting that they may not perceive a need for further training. Accessibility was another notable barrier, with 24% stating that training locations were not easily reachable. For 20% of respondents, the perception of training as ‘unnecessary’ factored into their decision to abstain. Furthermore, 11% were simply unaware of available training options, highlighting a communication gap that industry stakeholders could address. Lastly, 9% found the costs associated with these programs prohibitive.

Breakdown of Training Programs

On-site training programs emerged as the most prevalent format, adopted by 38% of respondents. This is particularly significant in the context of motorcycle training, with 64% of on-site training attendees participating in motorcycle-focused programs. The preference for on-site training aligns with the hands-on nature of powersports, emphasizing the value of practical, experiential learning environments.

Following closely behind were group lessons, favored by 20% of respondents. The appeal of learning with peers, fostering camaraderie and collective learning, underscores the community-oriented culture inherent in powersports.

In terms of specific programs, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) emerged as the standout, with a commanding 48% of participants choosing this course. Other courses, such as the Advanced Rider Courses (10%), All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (3%), Off-road Safety Academy (2%), and US Power Squadrons (2%), showed varying degrees of popularity, highlighting the diverse range of interests and needs within the powersports community.

Training Duration

The duration of powersports training programs appears to differ significantly depending on the type of vehicle, with programs focusing on motorcycles and scooters typically being more extensive. Nearly half of the motorcycle training participants (48%) reported training durations of 1-2 days, and a further 36% indicated that their training lasted 3-7 days. For scooters, training was spread almost evenly between 1-2 days (25%) and 3-7 days (50%).

Contrastingly, training programs for other types of powersports vehicles such as snowmobiles, ATVs, PWCs, and boats, are considerably shorter. More than half of these participants reported training durations of less than one day, indicating a different approach to skills development for these vehicle categories.

Participant Satisfaction and Impact on Skills

The efficacy of powersports training programs is best illustrated by the high levels of participant satisfaction and reported skills improvement. The survey shows impressive satisfaction rates ranging from 70% to 90% across different training programs. Notably, only a small fraction of snowmobile (8%) and PWC (9%) training participants expressed dissatisfaction with their training experiences.

An overwhelming 86% of survey respondents reported noticeable improvements in their skills after undertaking training. These improvements encompassed a range of areas, including enhanced vision and awareness while operating the vehicle (12%), improved cornering and braking (10%), better throttle and brake control (9%), and greater proficiency in low-speed maneuvers (9%). Respondents also reported a boost in their overall knowledge about their vehicle (7%), increased confidence (6%), and refinement of basic operating skills (3%).

Most significantly, 95% of participants who went through a training program reported improved understanding and implementation of safety practices. This underscores the pivotal role training plays in enhancing rider safety and contributing to the broader aim of reducing accidents and injuries in the powersports industry.

In sum, these results affirm the value and impact of powersports training programs, yielding both tangible and intangible benefits that enhance the overall riding experience.

Interest in Future Training

In an encouraging sign for the continued growth and evolution of powersports training, the survey reveals a robust interest among participants in engaging with future training opportunities. Overall, 71% of respondents expressed an interest in taking some form of training course, either as an initial experience or as a refresher.

For those who are interested, a significant 78% indicated a preference for on-site training, likely due to the practical, hands-on learning environment it offers. In addition, a notable proportion expressed interest in training camps or workshops (51%), group training (49%), online training (26%), a combination of on-site and online training (25%), and private lessons (21%).

Participants also provided insights into their desired areas of focus for future training. Safety and accident avoidance emerged as a leading area of interest (18%), closely followed by advanced riding skills (16%), cornering (13%), slow speed maneuvering (11%), off-road and dirt riding skills (10%), braking techniques (8%), high speed riding (6%), and overall handling and control (4%).

Participant Feedback and Improvements

Participants' feedback provides a treasure trove of information for course instructors and program developers to refine the learning experience. Several key areas of potential improvement were identified by survey respondents.

The most common suggestion was an increase in hands-on training and practice, highlighted by 21% of respondents. This demonstrates a clear preference for practical, experiential learning in powersports training. Smaller class sizes were also deemed important by 12% of respondents, which could help ensure more individualized attention and instruction.

The desire to learn more advanced techniques (11%) reflects an appetite for higher-level skills development. Other recommendations included offering more locations (8%), implementing real-world training (7%), and improving instructor quality (6%). These suggestions present concrete avenues for enhancing the effectiveness and appeal of powersports training programs, ultimately leading to a safer and more skilled powersports community.

Additional Thoughts and Experiences

Participants were asked to share additional thoughts and experiences related to their training.

A notable 19% of respondents expressed a desire for additional or regular training, signifying a commitment to ongoing skill development and safety in the powersports community. Quality of instruction emerged as a concern for 14% of respondents, reinforcing the importance of recruiting and retaining competent, engaging instructors.

Interestingly, 10% of participants highlighted the impact of training on achieving licensing and insurance requirements. This suggests that, beyond skill development and safety, there are pragmatic considerations driving participation in training programs.

What This Means for Stakeholders

The results of the survey offer an extensive understanding of current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the field of powersports training. For stakeholders, these findings not only reflect the current landscape but also guide strategic planning to ensure the continued growth and vitality of the industry.

A key takeaway is the notable rate of training participation (74%). This signifies that most powersports consumers understand and value the importance of proper training for safety and skill enhancement. Yet, it also highlights a potential growth area among the 26% who have not participated in any training programs, for reasons such as perceived competence, lack of accessibility, unawareness, or cost.

The preference for on-site training and group lessons signals the need for practical, hands-on learning environments that also foster community and collective learning. The popularity of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation program, in particular, should encourage the development of comprehensive, well-structured courses that cater to specific vehicle types and skill levels.

The high satisfaction rates and self-reported improvements in skills and safety awareness emphasize the positive impact of training. This should incentivize stakeholders to continue investing in quality programs and effective instruction.

The strong interest in future training, with a focus on specific areas like safety, advanced riding skills, and cornering, indicates a market for continued education. This provides a roadmap for developing targeted training modules and resources to meet these demands.

Finally, participant feedback underscores the importance of enhancing the learning experience through smaller class sizes, more advanced techniques, increased locations, real-world training, and improved instructor quality. This guidance should be instrumental in shaping more effective and appealing training programs.

By addressing these identified challenges and leveraging emerging opportunities, stakeholders can elevate the quality of powersports training and foster a safer, more skilled, and more engaged powersports community.

about the author

Tristin Burdick

Research Analyst, EPG Specialty Information

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