June 25, 2019

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Most Common Motorcycle Crash Injuries

What are the most common motorcycle crash injuries? Many people are seriously injured in motorcycle accidents each year. Motorcycle riders are at a much greater risk of suffering injuries when they are involved in collisions than are the more-protected occupants of other types of vehicles. Because of the danger to motorcyclists, many wear safety gear, including helmets, boots, gloves and jackets. While safety gear does provide some level of protection, injuries still may occur. Several studies have been conducted that provide information about the types, locations and severity of the most common types of motorcycle crash injuries, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the World Health Organization and the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.

The CDC study of non-fatal motorcycle injuries

The CDC reviewed the data for 1,222,000 people who had to go to the hospital for the treatment of non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries from 2001 to 2008. The most common location of injuries was on the feet or legs of riders, accounting for 30 percent. Injuries to the neck and head accounted for 22 percent. Next most common were injuries to the chest, back or shoulders followed by injuries to the hands and arms. Injuries to the pelvis and hips rounded out the most common locations of non-fatal motorcycle injuries.

The AAAM study: Age of rider and helmet use

The AAAM looked at injuries in relation to helmet use as well as the age of the rider. The researchers reviewed police reports and hospital discharge reports for all motorcycle riders who were injured between 1998 and 2002 in the state of Maryland. Injuries were ranked in severity for nine different body locations. People who were wearing helmets had the lowest numbers of severe injuries while having the highest numbers of less-severe injuries. Like the CDC, the AAAM found that the greatest number of injuries happened to the legs and feet of riders.

The AAAM study showed that riders under the age of 40 were more likely to suffer from severe head injuries when they were not wearing helmets. For those over age 40, the opposite was true. The most common type of severe injury resulting in riders dying at the hospital were injuries to the thorax. This was followed by injuries to the head and injuries to the abdomen. Overall, the study did not find that helmet use influenced the data significantly.

The WHO study and the nature of the injuries

WHO looked at the specific types of injuries for riders in Pakistan who sought treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. People who only suffered soft tissue injuries without fractures were excluded, as were those who suffered head injuries that required neurosurgical intervention. Injuries to the legs and feet were again the most common injury locations. For the legs, the most commonly broken bones were the tibia and fibula bones in the lower legs, followed by fractures to the femur. The most common upper body fractures were the radius and ulna bones of the lower arms followed by the humerus bones of the upper arms. The bone with the greatest risk for fractures overall were the tibia bones of the lower legs, making WHO recommend that riders consider lower-leg protection while they are riding.

The NHTSA study and fatal injuries

The NHTSA provided information it obtained from death certificates for 8,539 motorcyclists who died in motorcycle accidents from 2000 to 2002. For those who wore helmets, 57 percent of the people who died suffered injuries to multiple areas of their bodies. 44 percent of people who were not wearing helmets died after suffering injuries to multiple locations. 19 percent of helmeted riders died after suffering head injuries while 36 percent of unhelmeted riders suffered head injuries. Overall, 51 percent of fatalities involved injuries in multiple body locations and 27 percent involved head injuries. In fatal crashes in which riders only received one injury, head injuries were the ones that were most commonly fatal.

Copyright © 2019 · Steven Sweat


About this Author

Steven M. Sweat, Personal injury law firm, Southern California, Los Angeles
Principle Founding Attorney

Steven M. Sweat, is the principal founding attorney of Steven M. Sweat, APC, a California personal injury law firm based in Los Angeles with offices throughout Southern California.  Steven was born in 1970 and grew up in Florida.  He attended Florida State University and graduated in 1992, Cum Laude.  He thereafter moved to San Diego, California where he attended and graduated from California Western School of Law in 1995.

For over two decades Steven has been litigating a wide range of civil claims.  He has been described as a "pit bull with a huge heart" and takes pride in helping...