Crash stats compare off-roading on city streets vs. motorcycles

People who illegally ride off-road vehicles, such as dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, on city streets suffer similar crash injuries as motorcyclists, but are less likely to die, even though many riders don’t wear helmets, according to new research.

With more people riding off-road vehicles in urban areas, understanding the types of injuries involved in crashes will help emergency medical providers and trauma surgeons provide better care.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Surgical Research, is the first to compare the types of injuries people involved in crashes riding off-road vehicles sustained versus motorcycles in urban areas.

Researchers looked at 1,556 people who got injured riding off-road vehicles or motorcycles on paved inner city, suburban, or major roadways and went to a trauma center in Camden, New Jersey from 2005 to 2016.

The study found that crash victims in both modes of transportation had similar rates of traumatic brain injuries and levels of consciousness following these injuries. It also found that motorcyclists without helmets were at a higher risk of traumatic brain injury when compared to urban off-road vehicle riders without helmets. In addition, motorcyclists had more chest injuries, while off-road vehicles riders had more facial injuries, which researchers attribute to their not wearing helmets.

The average age of off-road riders in the study was 26, almost 15 years younger than motorcyclists whose average age was 39. While 90% of those riding motorcycles wore helmets, they still required more emergency surgeries and had a higher death rate than the off-road riders, of which only 39% wore helmets.

“This could be attributed to the older age of motorcycle riders and the likelihood that motorcycles were more frequently used at higher speeds at the time of the crash,” says lead author Christopher Butts, a trauma surgeon at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who worked in collaboration with trauma surgeons at Cooper University Health Care.

“The people who are riding off-road vehicles in urban areas are used to not wearing helmets and are already breaking the law by riding these vehicles on the street,” Butts says.

“Although our data suggest a lower mortality rate in urban off-road vehicle riders, the lack of helmet use in this young group is still concerning,” he says. “We hope this study will highlight the seriousness of off-road vehicle in urban areas and guide strategies to decrease this dangerous practice.”

Source: Rutgers University