Saying Goodbye to Harry Hurt, 1927-2009

Some of you may recognize the name, Harry Hurt, some of  you may not. But, I guarantee that something about your motorcycling experience has been influenced by the research that this man did during his lifetime. 
According to Wikipedia;
“Hurt was born in Big Spring in West Texas, and grew up in that community.[1] He was an only child, and his father worked in the banking industry.[1] Hurt graduated from Texas A&M University in 1950, and was an air transport pilot for the United States Navy during the Korean War. He married Joan Beene in 1950, and they had five children, Harry, John, Julie, Vivien, and Vera.[1] He then received a Masters degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Southern California (USC).[2]

Hurt, self-described as “scooter trash” in his youth,[3] began riding on a Cushman scooter. He also owned and rode dozens of street and dirt motorcycles including a 1947 Harley-Davidson 61 Knucklehead, a 1968 Triumph Bonneville, a 1975 Norton Commando, and a 1979 Triumph Bonneville.[2]

Mr. Hurt was a professor of science at the University of Southern California and a lifelong motorcyclist.  In an interview dated 2005, he explained his devotion to researching motorcycle accidents to the fact that he had “developed a terrible concern that motorcycles were getting a bad rap in traffic accident investigations”.   After studying 900 accidents that happened in the Los Angeles area between 1976 and 1977 , 3600 police reports, photographing 2,310 motorcycles that passed by and interviewing 505 riders, Hurt released his findings in a 1981 publication that became known as the Hurt Report.  His most notable finding was that wearing a DOT-approved helmet dramatically increased a riders chances of surviving a crash.
Hurt retired from USC in 1998 and went on to found the Head Protection Laboratory in Paramount, California. He researched helmets from all manufacturers and participated in major research projects which set the standard for safe helmets and even modified the Snell standards, which was the leader in deciding the safety standards for helmets. The change accounted for head size and not an across-the-board helmet rating. Hurt stated that the Snell standard produced a stiff, hard helmet with the tendency to increase and not decrease brain injuries.  The Hurt Report was discribed as “the most comprehensive motorcycle safety study of the 20th century.”
In 2006, Hurt made the statement that the current problem is “older riders, bigger bikes and alcohol.” He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007.
On November 29, 2009, Hugh Harrison Hurt, Jr. died of a heart attack at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center at the age of 81.  However, his influence on the safety of motorcyclists and their protective gear will be with us forever.   Thanx, Harry! We owe you a debt of gratitude.                                                      The Editor