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Motorcycle Passengers Face Higher Head Injury Risks Than Drivers

Posted on August 6, 2021 in

Motorcycle drivers and passengers face significant risks on the roadway. There is no protection from a metal frame. There are no airbags. There are no seatbelts. When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, this can lead to devastating injuries. One thing that many people may not be aware of is that motorcycle passengers face a higher risk of sustaining a head injury than motorcycle drivers. Here, they want to discuss motorcyclist head injury risks and look at why passengers are in more danger than drivers.

Traumatic Brain Injuries are the Most Common Motorcyclist Injuries

When we look at a recent article available from Reuters, we can see that traumatic brain injuries are the most common type of injury sustained by motorcyclists. This is particularly true for jurisdictions that do not have motorcycle helmet laws in place. Even though motorcycle helmets are proven to help reduce the risk of a motorcycle rider sustaining a traumatic brain injury and reduce the risk of death when a crash occurs, riders in Colorado over the age of 18 do not have to wear motorcycle helmets.

However, studies have shown that motorcycle passengers are more likely to suffer serious head injuries than those who are controlling the bike. According to the Reuters article, motorcycle passengers are less likely to wear helmets and more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries if a crash occurs.

Researchers looked at 80,000 motorcycle drivers and 6,000 passengers involved in collisions over a three-year. What they found was that two-thirds of drivers wore helmets compared to only 57.5% of motorcycle passengers. Amongst both drivers and passengers on motorcycles, traumatic brain injuries were the most common type of injury sustained in collisions. However, unhelmeted passengers experienced traumatic brain injuries in 40% of the case is studied, compared with just 36% of the unhelmeted drivers.

Even when wearing a helmet, passengers still face a higher risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury than motorcycle drivers. The rate of traumatic brain injuries amongst helmeted passengers was 36%, compared to 31% for helmeted motorcycle drivers.

According to Doctor Tyler Evans from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, “We believe that in certain accidents, the passenger is more likely to be ejected from the motorcycle.”

Researchers say that being ejected from the motorcycle increases the risk of a person sustaining a serious head injury, regardless of whether or not a helmet is worn. Additionally, researchers hypothesize that motorcycle drivers have a lower risk of injuries because they sit behind the protective windshield and have a grasp of the steering column, while motorcycle passengers sit in a higher position and have little to hold onto.

Researchers also say that alcohol plays a role in these motorcycle crashes and whether or not passengers sustained a traumatic brain injury. The study showed that less than half of the passengers and drivers under the influence of alcohol wore helmets.

It should be noted that this study was not a controlled experiment, but the results do offer striking evidence. Passenger safety is often seen as an afterthought when operating a motorcycle, but it needs to be at the forefront of every motorcyclist’s mind. Anytime a motorcyclist is going to have a passenger ride with them, they need to ensure that they have proper safety gear for their passenger and that they operate their motorcycle safely and in a way that reduces the chance of a motorcycle accident occurring.