Common Motorcycle Injuries & How to Avoid Them
It's rarely said out loud, but all motorcycle riders know they put themselves in harm's way every time they ride. With that in mind, here are some common motorcycle accident injuries and tips on avoiding them.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
You probably first encountered road rash at a young age when learning how to ride a bicycle. But there's a major difference between the road rash from falling off a bicycle and from skidding off a motorcycle.
The speed of a motorcycle means that if you end up falling off and sliding down the asphalt, your skin will drag across it longer and scrape harder than it would from falling off a bicycle. A motorcycle road rash typically covers more of your body and is much deeper. Road rash can be severe enough to create permanent scarring and nerve damage. And don't forget the skin infections and deep irritations any rider who's had to dig a piece of grit out of their hand or knee after getting a road rash from a motorcycle accident will testify to.
While road rash is the most common motorcycle injury, head injuries are usually the worst. Even a minor blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which usually leads to severe cognitive and sensory issues or permanent brain damage. If you're lucky enough to escape a TBI, a head injury can still leave you with a mild-to-severe concussion. Both can lead to post-traumatic complications and worse concussions in the future. Apart from damage to the brain, head injuries can also cause nasty disfigurement from facial fractures or lacerations.
Whiplash occurs when the neck is violently shaken back and forth. Any time the body rapidly moves one way or the other, the head tends to act like a pendulum and generates rapid shaking movements on the neck. Extreme whiplash can damage the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis or death. Even mild whiplash can tear muscles and ligaments in the neck, which take weeks to properly heal.
Leg and Foot Injuries
Aside from road rash, injuries to the legs and feet are the most common for motorcyclists. Broken or fractured bones, sprained ankles, torn knee ligaments, and lacerations are all common motorcycle injuries. If the damage to the legs is bad enough, it can lead to permanent disability or even amputation.
Preventing Motorcycle Injuries
Sturdy, protective riding gear can help prevent the majority of road rash injuries. Materials such as denim aren't tough enough, and quickly wear away when slid across asphalt during an accident. Leather apparel should be worn, as it is far more resilient to abrasion. Always wear leather gloves, trousers and a jacket, or a leather riding suit to minimize the risk of road rash.
Common sense tells us to always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, period. A helmet is the head's primary line of defense in an accident, so make sure you wear one at all times. Full-face helmets offer far more protection than open-face helmets, while half-helmets offer the least amount of protection.
The neck is perhaps a motorcycle driver's most vulnerable body part. Neck braces are essential for protection during racing and competition, but opinion is divided as to whether they're suitable for everyday riding on roads and highways.
Leg and Foot Injuries
Leather motorcycle trousers with knee pads and armored panels can lower the chances of fractures and lacerations. Proper motorcycle boots that extend above the ankle are proven to reduce the likelihood of a sprained or broken ankle.
Arm and Hand Injuries
Once again, leather clothing provides the basis for protecting the arms and hands. Don't ride even the shortest distance without wearing leather gloves because in any accident, no matter how small, the hands usually get scraped along the asphalt. A leather jacket with armored panels and elbow pads offers additional protection to the arms.
A sturdy leather motorcycle jacket should form the basis of your torso protection. Ideally, the jacket will include built-in elbow pads and armored panels, but this should be augmented by wearing a back protector and a chest protector or an armored vest.
Use Common Sense
The best ways to prevent injuries when riding a motorcycle is to minimize the chances of getting in an accident by following these tips:
- Always be alert when you ride
- Never ride beyond your skill or capability
- Make sure your motorcycle is regularly serviced and in perfect mechanical condition
And last but not least, another way to reduce the chances of having an accident is to improve your visibility to other drivers. We hope these tips will help keep you safe every time you experience the thrills motorcycle riding has to offer.