Study: Motorcycle Crashes Cause 5 Times As Many Deaths As Car Accidents

TORONTO — Per capita, motorcycle accidents cause much more harm to their occupants than car accidents, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Toronto looked at seven years of data on adults hospitalized due to a motorcycle or car crash in the province of Ontario, finding that motorcyclists were three times as likely to get injured and five times as likely to die as other motorists, while their medical expenses were about sixfold.

Man riding motorcycle
A new study finds that motorcyclists were three times as likely to get injured and five times as likely to die as other motorists, while their medical expenses were about sixfold. (Photo by Vanessa Serpas on Unsplash)

Although motorcyclists found themselves far outnumbered by drivers in local hospitals 26,831 to 281,826  they were also much more likely than an average motorist to admitted to a clinic in the first place.

In terms of demographics, motorcycle accident victims were 36 years of age on average, younger than the average crash victim, and 81 percent male.

“The main results of our study were that each motorcycle in Ontario causes 10 times the severe injuries, 5 times the deaths, and 6 times the medical costs of each automobile,” says Dr. Daniel Pincus, the study’s author, in a press release. “We know that the additional risk associated with driving a motorcycle has not translated into improvements in motorcycle safety. So we hope that estimating the medical costs of care for motorcycle crashes may provide an additional incentive to improve safety.”

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These findings come despite broad improvements in motor vehicle safety over the past few years, the researchers note.

While it may be difficult to accurately extrapolate the outcomes of motorcycle accidents in a single Canadian province to the entire world, this data can still provide valuable insight.

“Exact healthcare costs vary in other healthcare systems, [but] we argue that the conclusions drawn from the relative comparison of motorcycle to automobile crashes apply beyond Canada to the rest of the developed world,” the authors state. “For example, in a privately-funded healthcare system, insurance companies and individual providers may accept a larger share of the direct healthcare costs than we have estimated in this study.”

Since their findings failed to account for a number of injury-related expenditures, such as spending by insurance companies, lost productivity, and long-term health needs, the researchers warn that their figure may represent an underestimated count.

Pincus et al. published their findings in the Nov. 20 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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