[FactoryRiders] Harry Hurt dies at 81; motorcycle accident expert

Randy Grein randygrein at comcast.net
Wed Dec 2 21:45:20 PST 2009


Thanks for the post. Harry will be remembered and missed.

Randy Grein

On Dec 2, 2009, at 4:07 PM, Thomas J. Fitzpatrick III wrote:

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> latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-harry- 
> hurt2-2009dec02,0,1034954.story
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> latimes.com
> OBITUARY
> Harry Hurt dies at 81; motorcycle accident expert
>
> His groundbreaking research published in 1981 continues to form the
> basis of many of the country's motorcycle safety programs and is
> credited with saving countless lives.
> By Susan Carpenter
>
> December 2, 2009
>
> Harry Hurt, one of the world's foremost authorities on motorcycle
> crashes and their causes, has died. He was 81.
>
> Hurt suffered a heart attack Sunday at Pomona Valley Hospital. It  
> was a
> complication of back surgery that he had a week earlier, said his
> eldest
> son, Harry Hurt III.
>
> Hurt was the principal investigator of the Hurt Report, an in-depth,
> on-scene investigation of 900 motorcycle accidents in Los Angeles from
> 1976 to 1977.
>
> Published in 1981, his groundbreaking research continues to form the
> basis of many of the country's motorcycle safety programs and is
> credited with saving countless lives.
>
> Hurt was a professor of safety science at USC's Traffic Safety Center
> in
> the early 1970s, when roughly 10% of U.S. highway traffic fatalities
> were because of motorcycle accidents.
>
> In 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reached  
> out
> to Hurt and the university to develop an accident investigation
> methodology and study that would determine the causes of motorcycle
> crashes and injuries.
>
> Among the study's major findings were that speed was not a factor in
> most crashes; that helmets were very effective in preventing brain
> injuries and deaths; and that two-thirds of motorcycle crashes  
> involved
> cars and two-thirds of those accidents occurred when a car driver
> failed
> to see the motorcycle and violated the cyclist's right of way.
>
> "Harry was the acknowledged giant in motorcycle accident research,"
> said
> Jim Ouellet, one of the accident investigators for the Motorcycle
> Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures study,
> better known as the Hurt Report.
>
> "Similar studies since 1990 reflect his influence and have largely
> confirmed his findings. He was a bulldog at finding the facts and
> making
> them public even if some people were unhappy when the facts he  
> reported
> didn't support their pet theories."
>
> Hurt was a lifelong motorcyclist and never had a crash, said his wife,
> Joan.
>
> He rode "a garage full of things: Hondas, Triumphs, Nortons, dirt
> bikes,
> street bikes -- all kinds of stuff," his son said, including a Suzuki
> trail bike he used to walk his pet, "Gurl Dawg," as recently as a
> decade
> ago, when he gave up motorcycles because he was no longer physically
> able to ride.
>
> The only child of a banker, Hugh Harrison (Harry) Hurt Jr. was born
> Dec.
> 13, 1927, in Big Spring, Texas, where he grew up building and flying
> model airplanes.
>
> Hurt joined the Navy toward the end of World War II, learned to fly  
> and
> became a commissioned officer, but the war was over, so he never flew
> in
> combat.
>
> He met his wife, Joan Beene, while serving in the Navy. They were
> married in 1950, the same year he graduated from the Agriculture and
> Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), where he  
> earned
> his bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering.
>
> After a short stint analyzing airplane designs for the Texas aero
> physics lab North American Aviation, he moved west to attend USC and
> earned his master's degree in aeronautical engineering.
>
> As a graduate student, Hurt was involved with a project to develop a
> crash helmet that forms the basis for helmets used today: a hard
> exterior shell lined with an energy-absorbing material and soft inner
> padding.
>
> Hurt's expertise in vehicular safety began with aviation. He wrote
> "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators," a flight-training textbook that
> continues to be standard reading for aviators and is still in print,  
> 44
> years after its initial publication.
>
> It was after joining the USC faculty and heading the engineering
> section
> of its safety division that Hurt branched into motor vehicle safety
> research, developing and teaching courses in accident
> investigation/analysis and accident reconstruction.
>
> Although he is best known for the Hurt Report, his more recent work
> included a large-scale motorcycle accident causation study in  
> Thailand.
> Hurt supervised it through his Head Protection Research Laboratory in
> Paramount, a nonprofit organization he established to evaluate helmets
> and other forms of head protection equipment after he retired from USC
> as a professor emeritus.
>
> "I don't think [Hurt's] contributions to motorcycle safety can be
> overstated," said Art Friedman, former editor of Motorcyclist  
> magazine,
> who in 1990 wrote a column naming Hurt as "Motorcyclist of the  
> Decade."
>
> "Our readers, not surprisingly, had chosen multiple-time World and
> National Champion Kenny Roberts, but my choice was Harry," Friedman
> said. "After all, Roberts had thrilled us, but Harry Hurt had helped
> save many of our lives and limbs and continues to do so."
>
> In addition to his wife and son Harry, Hurt also survived by another
> son, John; three daughters, Julie, Vivien and Vera; and 10
> grandchildren.
>
> A remembrance will be held at the Paramount lab in January.
>
> susan.carpenter
>
> @latimes.com
>
> Copyright C 2009, The Los Angeles Times
>
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