Despite the fact that motorcycles offer the most fuel-efficient mode of transportation, operating a motorcycle requires more skill and coordination that operating a car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because motorcycles provide little protection, riders should wear protective gear such as a helmet, eye protection, protective clothing, gloves and footwear. Motorcycle riders should remain constantly aware of their surroundings and learn to drive defensively to protect themselves from the cars and trucks around them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. Some injuries are more common than others.
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Because a motorcycle cannot stand upright on its own, most motorcycle accidents cause the motorcycle to fall over. Accidents happen so quickly that the rider’s leg remains underneath the motorcycle, resulting in a broken leg. Therefore, the Center for Neuro Skills reports broken leg as the most common injury for hospitalized motorcycle accident victims. Motorcycle accidents can also cause wrist and arm fractures as riders naturally react by trying to break their fall and catch themselves. Other common fractures resulting from motorcycle accidents include fractures of the shoulder and the pelvis.
Since motorcycles do not safely encase the occupant, riders make contact with the surface of the road during a motorcycle accident. Failing to wear adequate protective clothing leaves the skin vulnerable to an injury known as road rash. Road rash describes a skin abrasion that can range from mild to severe. When the surface of the skin only appears red, doctors classify the road rash as first degree. Second degree road rash occurs when the surface of the skin is broken but the inner layers of skin remain intact, as described by Arnie Baker Cycling. Third degree road rash, which requires prompt medical attention, occurs when the road completely removes the skin leaving the underlying layers of tissue and fat exposed.
Head injury, including traumatic brain injury, is the leading cause of death and disability in motorcycle accidents, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Although wearing a helmet can reduce motorcycle accident deaths by 29 to 35 percent and the incidence of head injuries even more, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, many states do not require the use of helmets. Although many avid motorcyclists fight against laws requiring helmets citing their need for independence, studies on helmet laws, motorcycle accidents and the resulting cost of medical care consistently find that wearing a helmet lowers the probability of sustaining a head injury, as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.