Motorcycle Injuries

Due to the unprotected nature of a rider, motorcycle injuries can cause lasting damage. Riders who experience a motorcycle accident will more than likely sustain some type of injury. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that roughly 80 percent of motorcycle accident cases result in rider injury or death.

Types of Motorcycle Injuries

Depending on the severity of the accident, motorcycle injuries can range from minor scrapes to permanent disability such as quadriplegia. Motorcyclists often experience burns or road rash when contact is made with the road after falling off the motorcycle. Whiplash is a common motorcycle injury when the rider experiences high impact. Whiplash is caused by sudden extortion of the neck through extension.

Joint, Muscle, & Bone Injuries

The impact that causes motorcycle injuries can often lead to broken bones and torn muscles. The NHTSA analyzed data showing that lower-extremity motorcycle injuries were among the most common. Lower-extremity injuries included broken bones and damaged joints in the legs, knees, ankles, feet, pelvises, hips, and thighs. The incidence of lower-extremity injuries were followed by injuries of upper extremities and the head.

Head Trauma

Head trauma can be among the most devastating motorcycle injuries. This is especially true when the motorcyclist fails to wear a helmet. If the cyclist’s head makes impact with other vehicles, the road, or other surfaces, brain damage or concussion may occur. The NHTSA’s data suggests that head trauma and fatality most often occur when the motorcycle accident’s point of impact is directly in front of the motorcycle.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Motorcycle injuries of the neck can occur as pinched nerves, fractures, and herniated cervical discs. If the motorcycle injuries are serious enough to affect the spinal cord, the motorcyclist may face permanent disability and paralysis such as paraplegia or quadriplegia. These conditions require a lifetime of intensive care. It is estimated that care for a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic requires more than $520,000 per year in care.

Other motorcycle injuries may include:

  • Disfigurement of the face and body
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Lacerations and contusions

Prevent Motorcycle Injury

While it may be out of the rider’s control, practicing motorcycle safety can help prevent motorcycle injuries. Protective gear can help shield riders from impact or debris. It is critical that motorcyclist’s wear a helmet. Preferably, motorcyclists should wear a helmet that passes DOT safety requirements. Other protective gear includes thick clothing such as leather or denim to protect from burns or road rash in the event of a fall. Gloves and boots can cover skin on the hands and ankles.

Motorcycle safety also includes driving habits and actions while on the road. Riders should drive more slowly during unfavorable weather conditions. Rider should not lane split, or drive between two lanes. When approaching an intersection, the rider should look to the left, front, right, and left again to ensure that other vehicles are not approaching. As with passenger vehicles, driving under the influence should always be avoided.


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Cook, Lawrence, et al. “Motorcycle Helmet Use and Head and Facial Injuries.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 22 Jul 2013. <>.

Hanna, Refaat, and Rory Austin. “Lower-Extremity Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes.” National Highway Safety Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 22 Jul 2013. <>.

Talving, Peep, et al. “Motorcycle-related injuries: effect of age on type and severity of injuries and mortality.” Journal of Trauma. 68.2 (2010): 441-446. Print.