Severe Trauma

While on the road, motorcyclists face a heightened risk of suffering severe trauma from accidents in comparison to those who travel in passenger vehicles. It is estimated that motorcyclists may be up to 35 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than passenger vehicle drivers and riders. Furthermore, severe trauma to the head is the leading cause of motorcycle death.

Prevent Severe Trauma

In order to avoid severe trauma, motorcyclists should always wear protective gear. Data shows that helmets are the single most important factor for preventing severe trauma to the head and brain. Other protective gear such as leather jackets, long pants, gloves, protective eyewear, and ankle-covering boots are also highly recommended for motorcycle safety.

Severe Brain and Spine Trauma

The primary types of severe trauma from motorcycle accidents involve injuries to the motorcyclist’s brain and spine. These two regions are critical to the physical and mental functions needed for daily life. It is estimated that traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to roughly one-third of injury-related fatalities in the United States.

Effects of Severe Trauma

Severe trauma from motorcycle accidents is often the cause of death or debilitating short- and long-term injuries. Severe trauma can have physical and psychological effects that last a lifetime for accident victims. Severe trauma may cause permanent physical and mental disability, such as paralysis or brain damage. Depending on the type and prognosis of severe trauma, accident victims may never reach a full recovery.

Severe Trauma Risk Factors

Motorcyclists who fail to wear protective gear face a significantly increased risk of severe trauma during a motorcycle accident. Data suggests that helmets alone may prevent motorcycle fatalities from severe trauma by 37 percent. While protective gear plays a large role when an accident occurs, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of a motorcycle accident occurring.

The following factors may increase the likelihood of severe trauma from a motorcycle accident:

  • Driving at high speeds
  • Motorcycle collisions involving a heavier object, such as a passenger vehicle
  • Motorcyclists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving in less safe conditions such as darkness or severe weather conditions

Motorcyclist Age

Research shows that older motorcyclists are significantly more likely to experience severe trauma. A study from Brown University shows that motorcyclists aged 60 and older were 2.5 times more likely than motorcyclists aged 20-to-30 to be admitted to the emergency room for severe trauma injuries. Middle-aged motorcyclists faced less of a risk. However, this demographic still faced a 66-percent increase in likelihood of experiencing severe trauma.


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“Motorcycle Helmet Use and Head and Facial Injuries.”National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 30 Aug 2013. <>.

“NINDS Spinal Cord Injury Information Page.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health, 1 Jul 2013. Web. 31 Aug 2013. <>.

“Traumatic brain injury.” Trauma Reports 1 Nov. 2012. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Aug. 2013.