Most Common Motorcycle Injuries
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UPDATED: Jun 21, 2021
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- One of the most common motorcycle injuries are head and neck injuries, since drivers are usually thrown headfirst on impact
- According to NHTSA, helmets have saved 2,000 lives back in 2017
- Bones in the arms are normally affected in crashes as riders often use them to protect their face
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 80,000 motorcycle-related injuries every year in the US.1 Many of those injuries are preventable through education.
Understanding common motorcycle injuries allows riders to better protect themselves from getting hurt. To help you stay safe on the road, we’ve assembled a list of the most frequent motorcycle-related injuries.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Statistics on motorcycle accident injuries may not tell the whole story, as only crashes reported to police are counted in official numbers. With that said, the information recorded by authorities shows clear trends in motorcycle-related injuries and certain causes of motorcycle accidents.
Regardless of the exact frequency at which the below issues occur, they are all common injuries in motorcycle accidents and should be noted by potential and current motorcyclists.
Head and Neck Injuries
Because motorcyclists can be thrown headfirst from the bike in an accident, head and neck injuries are commonplace. This is especially true when riders collide head-on with other motorists or fixed objects. A head injury or brain injury can often lead to motorcyclist fatalities so it is important to be aware of the possibility of a severe injury.
Helmetless riders carry the greatest risk of serious motorcycle accident injury. But even when wearing a helmet, motorcyclists are susceptible to head, face, and neck injuries. Motorcycle accidents can leave riders with various injuries from concussions to neck sprains and more.
As the brain is the body’s most important organ, always protect it with a helmet. A motorcycle crash in which a motorcycle rider hits their head can have immediate and long-lasting consequences. Extreme caution is advised when riding a motorcycle to avoid head and neck injuries.
The torso is equally prone to a motorcycle accident injury from a collision. If the motorcycle rider is ejected from their motorcycle in a serious crash, they could experience a collapsed lung or damage to internal organs.
In minor accidents, riders can still be thrown forward, causing their abdomen to collide with the handlebars. Broken ribs and severe bruising are common in these scenarios.
Whether a fall is caused by another driver or a mistake by the motorcyclist, road rash is likely. Road rash is an abrasion that occurs when exposed skin slides along the pavement. This can happen in any type of motorcycle collision and is an incredibly common injury.
Road rash is incredibly painful, and scarring and infections are possible when left untreated.
Broken or Fractured Bones
Impact with another vehicle or the road during an accident can lead to broken bones or fractures. Bones in the arms are regularly affected in crashes as riders often use them to protect their face. Legs, ankles, and the pelvis are other commonly broken bones due to motorcyclists landing on them.
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Other Motorcycle-Related Injuries
When a motorcycle accident happens, injuries are bound to occur. But crashing isn’t the only cause of motorcycle-related injuries. Here are other problems that motorcyclists frequently deal with.
Long rides can contribute to wrist pain since acceleration is controlled by the hand. Because of the vibration of the bike, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are not uncommon in motorcyclists.
Improper posture can also cause wrist pain, as riders sometimes support too much of their body weight with the wrists. Be mindful of the angle at which your wrist sits, as bending it too far for too long can cause problems later on.
Although not as severe as a skull fracture or a neck injury, all that time spent outdoors on a motorbike can lead to moderate or severe sunburns. While they may seem minor, sunburns can cause skin cancer.2 Consider covering up or wearing sunblock any time you take the motorcycle out.
As you learn how to get a motorcycle license, know that safety is the most important factor as a motorcyclist. While some amount of risk is inevitable when riding a motorcycle, all riders should take precautions to minimize those risks. Here are some suggestions for preventing motorcycle injuries.
First and foremost, always wear a helmet. The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved almost 2,000 lives in 2017 alone, and could have saved even more if all riders adopted them.1 Ensure your helmet fits snug and covers your face, and inspect it regularly for cracks and damage. Replace your helmet after a crash.
Other recommended safety gear includes long, sturdy pants and jackets, high-cut shoes or boots, and riding gloves. Protective clothing can save you from road rash in the event of a crash.
If you’re new to driving, study road safety. Knowing the meaning of all signs and lights you come across can be the difference between arriving home safely and finding yourself in a hospital bed. And even if you’re an experienced rider, brush up on road rules from time to time.
Accidents can occur due to faulty brakes, malfunctioning signals, problems with tires, and other issues. Maintaining your bike removes these problems from the equation. Do a quick check of your motorcycle before every ride—it could save your life.
Insuring Your Motorcycle
While your primary concern around motorcycle crashes should be your health and safety, damage to your bike can also be a costly headache. Motorcycle insurance gives you peace of mind in any situation.