Motorcycle Accidents Are 5x More Deadly Than Car Accidents, According to New Research

Traffic accidents involving motorcycles are five times more deadly than car crashes, according to the findings of new research, which also indicates that the injuries for those that survive a motorcycle accident are much more costly.

In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on November 20, researchers found that the medical costs associated with motorcycle crashes are six times higher than for individuals involved in car accidents.

Researchers in Canada conducted a population-based study of adults in Ontario; the largest province in Canada, with a population of more than 13.6 million people. The study focused on people in motorcycle accidents with injuries who went to the hospital from 2007 to 2013.

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The study included control patients, who were not involved in motorcycle accidents, and identified direct costs for each case and control in 2013 Canadian dollars. Researchers included nearly 27,000 patients injured in motorcycle crashes and nearly 282,000 patients injured in car crashes as controls.

The findings indicate injuries are three times more likely in motorcycle crashes than in car crashes. Severe injuries are 10 times greater among motorcycle crash patients than car crash patients. Individuals involved in a motorcycle accident are also five times more likely to die.

Similarly, medical costs are six times greater for motorcycle accident patients than car accident patients. On average, patients involved in motorcycle accidents had costs around $6,000 per accident, while car accident patients had average costs of $3,000.

Individuals involved in motorcycle accidents were more likely to be men, about 81%, and they were often younger. The average age was 36 years old. Motorcycle accidents also were more likely result in the need for hospitalization and admission to an intensive care unit compared to car crash victims.

Most studies involving motorcycle accident do not offer reliable estimates of costs incurred by victims. Estimates often don’t include costs after a patient is discharged, such as rehabilitation or ongoing care for a brain injury sustained during the accident. Other indirect costs, such as lost wages, are also typically not calculated.

For that reason, researchers believe the costs estimated in this study are much lower than the actual costs related to motorcycle accident injuries.

Researchers were able to estimate each registered motorcycle in Ontario costs the public health care system six times the amount of each registered car. However, the study does note that motor vehicle safety has improved over past 100 years. In fact, between 2000 and 2010 motor vehicle accident deaths decreased by 55% in 19 developed countries. However, accidents attributed to motorcycles remained stable during the same time period.

Motorcyclists have a greater risk of injury because they are more exposed to the road than a motorist. Helmets may help protect the head, but not completely. Other areas of the body are more susceptible to injury as well, such as the abdomen and vital organs. This allows motorcyclists to become injured more often during accidents, or injured more severely.

Motorcyclists should adhere to certain safety tips to help prevent serious injuries:

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Invest in other protective gear, like safety jackets, full pants, and gloves.
  • Obey speed limits and safety rules.
  • Never use alcohol while driving a motorcycle.
  • Avoid riding in bad weather.
  • Be alert and watch for other motorists.
  • Watch for road hazards, like sand, water, and loose gravel.


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