Total Control Training To Train New Californian Riders from 2015 After MSF Pulls Out

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, better known by the acronym MSF is no more in California when it comes to rider training to get a license. From 1 January 2015, Total Control Training, run by Lee Parks, will take over as the official instructing regime for the state of California for at least the next two years. It ends an approximately 10 year long association with California – a period which saw motorcycle rider fatalities increase by an alarming 63%, while population of the golden state had only increased by 6%.

It wasn’t a case of however of Total Control Training ousting MSF in a battle royale – MSF actually declined to tender a bid to the California Highway Patrol which is the state body responsible for motorcycle safety in California. In fact, the non-profit MSF even categorically stated that they would not permit any other organisation that won the tender to use any part of the existing MSF curriculum.

The aforementioned increase in motorcycle fatalities prompted the California Highway Patrol to revise it’s requirements on rider training this year, which MSF appears to have not wanted to adopt, hence them pulling out of the tender process. That in effect led to a default victory by Total Control Training. So should riders about to take their license course in California be worried? Yes and no.

Yes, from the point of view that Total Control Training now has only three weeks to train the approximately 600 current California instructors – that isn’t going to happen around the holiday season. It leaves the strong possibility that a significant amount of the training providers being unable to actually do the service they’re supposed to do due to being in a bureaucratic limbo. Furthermore, some trainers are already questioning if they will continue, given the potential expense involved in retooling and reeducating.

But potential new riders should be excited by what Lee Parks’ team is going to offer. From all reports, the program Total Control Training provides is top notch and just a few months ago they won the contract to do motorcycle training for the US Navy. Total Control Training’s program takes its roots from the TEAM Oregon motorcycle safety program which ironically was the subject of a lawsuit from MSF for alleged intellectual property infringement back in 2006.

With around two thirds of licensed riders in the United States residing in California, it will be interesting to see what other states do in the near future for their riding training. Here’s an FAQ from the Total Control Advanced Training website that may cover off a few questions soon to be new riders and instructors may have:

Q. Who administers the CMSP?

A. The CMSP is administered by the CHP pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 2931, which established permanent funding for the program in 1994.

Q. When will I get trained?

A. Soon. Our first priority will be converting existing instructors from the previous curriculmn to new the CMSP course starting January 5, 2015. Any “new” instructors will need to wait at least 4 months before we will begin training. We will be running Instructor Training (IT) courses at 3 different locations 6 days a week until the end of March.

Q. Will I receive a DL389 license waiver?

A. Yes. Any student who takes the CMSP course starting in January by any authorized trained provider will receive a DL389 upon passing the knowledage and skills test.

Q. What is the cost?

A. Under 21 $180 and over 21 $258.

Q. What is the Total Control Beginner Riding Clinic?

A. Total Control’s Beginner Riding Clinic is a fusion of Idaho’s long-proven STAR program and what we’ve learned in 15 years of teaching our internationally acclaimed Intermediate and Advanced Riding Clinics

Q. What do I need to bring?

A. Boots that cover the ankles, full fingered gloves (motorcycle specific recommended), long, durable pants, long sleeve shirt or jacket (motorcycle speific recommended) and eye protection.

Q. How long is the class and what about lunch?

A. CMSP course is are sixteen (16)-hours in length. Please contact the CMSP Sponsor where you will be taking the class for more details on class times and locations.

Q. How many students are in a CMSP course?

A. Each course will have a maximum of 12 students with 2 instructors.

Q. What happens if it rains?

A. Total Control classes (both level I and II) will be held in light rain. . If several days prior to the class the weather looks questionable the class may be canceled. Individual Total Control training sites will vary in their policies regarding weather related class cancellations, rescheduling or refunds. Please contact the training site where you are taking the class for details.

Q. What about CMSP Sponsor liability insurance?

A. All of the CMSP Sponsor locations have liability insurance by the top carrier in the nation for training sites. This insurance coverage is only for liability risks while you are participating in a course. You must have your own insurance policy for the motorcycle you are riding. Please have the policy number and name of your insurance company with you when you arrive at class.

Q. What qualification do the CMSP instructors have?

A. All CMSP instructors have received intensive training. In addition to the formal training, instructors are supervised by a certified master instructor until they are comfortable with teaching the class by themselves. Instructors must have at least five years of riding experience. Refresher courses are given on an annual basis.

Q. Do Students get a certificate after taking a CMSP course?

A. Yes. Each student will be have a certificate with their name on it after taking the ccourse.

Q. When are the CMSP courses held?

A. It depends on the site and their location. The schedule is located here. Please see the schedule page for specifics. Most CMSP Sponsors sites hold classes year round but sites in warmer climates may have winter classes as well.


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    As a CMSP Instructor/coach for many years, this new program everyone is talking about is not really new. I am writing this as a “guest” so as to stay anonymous and be able to express my opinions without fear of retribution – despite everything, I really do like my job!

    The range is based on the old MSF RSS program that was updated a couple of times…once in 2004 and then again in 2014, so it is nothing new – just a change in some verbage and one or two exercises have been updated. The classroom is different in its presentation, but it too contains much of the same information. The only real problem with the classroom is that it consists of 168 PowerPoint slides; geez – death by PowerPoint! Lots of good information, but those in education know that PowerPoint is only to enhance the presentation, not be the entire presentation. As an instructor, you have to work very hard not to let the students fall asleep. It is very obvious the classroom portion was put together by amateurs – everyone knows that five hours of lecture (divided up, generally, over 2 days) is not the way to get a student to remember what is said in the classroom. The MSF programs involved the student in group discussions and the sharing of information – far more interactive and based on current educational standards allowing the students to learn in the three ways everyone learns: by seeing, by doing and by hearing.

    There are only so many ways you can teach a student to ride. The MSF programs are based on adult education and allowing the student to be more involved in his/her learning. This new total Control program is more like a class run by “little generals”. Instructors are told where to stand, exactly what to say, and the approach of allowing experienced instructors to make small variations to adjust to the class and/or student abilities and learning curve, as well as the safety of all students, is no longer an option.

    I am told that the students get twice as much time on the motorcycles in the same amount of time as the previous curriculum. I believe this is true even though at times it does seem like too much time is spent on riding around in circles. That extra time riding does give the student more practice in the handling and the “feel” of the motorcycle. The last exercise of the course which involves the students in more “real life” interaction with other riders, is pretty nifty. It lets the students know if they are ready for the road…at least if they are honest with themselves.

    In conclusion, where the MSF had more experience in training novice motorcyclists, Total Control does not. It depends on an old MSF based program (not anything new that Lee Parks developed) that has taught about 1000 students per year in Idaho compared to the 60,000 plus in California. If this program is to succeed, it will need to take advantage of those in the educational fields and learn how to provide a course for adults as well as humble themselves to acknowledge that they need help in the presentation of the materials. The administration of the new CMSP also has a lot to be desired in that they are unaware of their own Policies and Procedures and are just “making it up on the fly” which has alienated many of the site administrators and sponsors. The CMSP is now ruling on the basis of threats and fear rather than the mutual cooperation of all that was for so many years enjoyed by administrators, site sponsors and instructors/coaches. Good luck California!