5 Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries—and How to Prevent Them
It’s summertime in the Sunshine State, and that means many motorcyclists are going to want to hit the open road. But, before you get on that steel horse, it’s important to consider safety. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the number of motorcycle fatalities from 2008 to 2017 was 48,727. That averages over 4,800 lives lost per year. Although the NHTSA notes that motorcycling deaths were slightly down in 2017 with 5,172 motorcyclists losing their lives, this figure is still far higher than the ten-year average. In addition, studies show that death from traumatic injury is the leading cause of death in the first have of life (age 1-45), making taking proper safety measures imperative. One way you can protect yourself is knowing the five most common motorcycle accident injuries so that you can take necessary safety precautions before you embark on your next adventure.
5 Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
1.) Head Injury
Your brain is the heaviest organ in your body, and if it becomes swollen past the barriers of the skull, that is a recipe for trouble. While head injury can include concussions ranging from minor to severe, it can also result in brain damage or a cracked skull which can be fatal. The best defense, of course, is to wear a safety helmet.
The NHTSA reports that in 2016, the use of motorcycle helmets saved more than 1,850 lives, and could have saved more than 800 more had riders been wearing helmets. However, it’s important to know that not all helmets are created equally. Motorcyclists should always choose a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. You can find the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. Snell and ANSI labels located inside the helmet also indicate the helmet meets the standards of those private, non-profit organizations.
2.) Road Rash
Road rash is an injury sustained when a rider slides sideways across the pavement following a wipeout or flies over the handlebars following an impact. Concrete rubs against any exposed skin as the body skids across the pavement at a high speed. If the clothing is thin enough, the pavement scrapes away through the layers of clothes, reaching to the skin underneath. This injury is not just a cut, scrape, or a simple bruise; it can also lead to more permanent damage such as skin irritations, infections, and even surface nerve damage. In incidents where road rash becomes a prevalent injury, get it professionally cleaned and treated by medical professionals to avoid infection.
To avoid road rash and other injuries, arms, and legs should be completely covered when riding a motorcycle, ideally in leather or heavy denim. Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover the ankles, while gloves allow for a better grip and help protect hands in the event of a crash.
3.) Muscle Damage
Muscle damage, anywhere in your body, can occur with any motorcycle accident. Prevention is thus all about protection, so the first step to protecting yourself beyond safe and defensive driving is to wear the protective gear described in the last section. Further actions include wearing knee and elbow pads (these can usually be worn comfortably under clothing) and seeking medical attention soon after the accident for further specific analysis.
An often forgotten muscle, the eardrum, should be protected as well. Wearing a helmet protects your head, but increases the amount of sound the rider is exposed to due to high winds. Wearing earplugs can protect you from bursting an eardrum or losing your hearing over time. Be sure to wear earplugs designed for your ear, as you still want to hear some sound to safely interact with your driving environment. The Bad Ass Helmet Store reviews some of the popular brands in their blog.
4.) Biker’s Arm
When an individual driving a vehicle is in an accident and wearing their safety belt, they are more or less protected by the structure of their own car. A motorcycle rider, however, doesn’t have that steel outer skeleton acting as a barrier between themselves and the pavement. A motorcyclist risks being thrown from his bike in the event of an accident, and it’s human instinct to stretch the arms forward to lessen the impact. However, that can lead to nerve damage in the biker’s arms. Again, sturdy clothing and elbow pads are your best bet against biker’s arm.
5.) Leg Injury
Another common injury from motorcycle accidents involves injuries not only to the leg, but also to the knees and feet. When these types of injuries occur, it will most likely not have a fatal outcome; however, the injury could grow into something worse if not permanently disabling. Injuries to the lower body include shattered or fractured bones in the legs, knees, and feet. Protective leather clothing and kneepads should be worn to protect these lower extremities.
Every time you ride your motorcycle, you take a risk on the road. Protecting yourself greatly lessens the risks enabling yourself to live a longer life. Be sure to visit the hospital for any injury attained by a motorcycle accident, and take pictures of your injuries if you were the one hit. If you are riding with your friends, be sure to ride with those who are also taking precautionary measures against an accident (riding with other experienced motorcyclists is in itself a precautionary measure). Lastly, the NHSTA also shows that 28% of motorcycle riders killed in 2017 were drunk, so never drink and bike. Be sure to also check out our story on the 6 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents, and if you’ve been a victim in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the experts at Lowman Law Firm to discuss your case.