Black motorcyclists -- even in helmets -- more likely to die in crashes

Sep 23, 2010

African-American victims of motorcycle crashes were 1.5 times more likely to die from their injuries than similarly injured whites, even though many more of the African-American victims were wearing helmets at the time of injury, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers.

Results of the research revealing these , published in the August issue of the American Journal of Surgery, suggest that injury-prevention programs — like state laws mandating the use of motorcycle helmets — may not be sufficient to protect all riders equally.

"For reasons that we are still trying to figure out, one size of injury prevention does not fit all groups of people and just wearing a helmet is not enough," says Adil Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study's senior author. "Helmet for helmet, African-Americans have more lethal injuries."

Haider, who is also co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research, suspects several factors may combine to account for the gap in survival between black and white victims. Previous studies of other accidents and illnesses have shown that lack of health insurance, reduced access to care, poorer quality of care and a greater number of pre-existing illnesses or injuries contribute to in survival. It is also possible, he says, that riders of different races may prefer different types of helmets or more dangerous types of motorcycles. More research is needed, he says, to determine what role, if any, these issues may play.

Motorcycle crashes injure roughly 88,000 people a year in the United States and kill 4,810 annually. The rate of fatal motorcycle crashes has been steadily rising for the past decade and now account for nearly 1 in 8 motor vehicle deaths.

In the new study, Haider and surgical resident Dr. Joseph Crompton reviewed National Trauma Data Bank information on 68,840 people involved in motorcycle crashes between 2002 and 2006. Along with the finding that even after controlling for factors such as insurance status, gender and injury severity, black crash victims were 1.5 times more likely to die from their injuries than similarly injured white victims. This was so despite the fact that black motorcycle crash victims were 30 percent more likely to be wearing helmets when injured than were white crash victims. The research also found that whites who were not wearing helmets were less likely to die than African-Americans who were wearing helmets, and that the highest mortality rates were among African-American motorcyclists without helmets.

Helmets have been proven to reduce traumatic brain injury deaths following motorcycle crashes and reduce the cost of hospital stays.

But with this new study in mind, Haider says, more focus should be placed on injury-prevention programs that go beyond imploring motorcyclists to wear helmets, since they alone do not appear to be doing enough to protect some crash victims — particularly African-Americans — from death.

Explore further: Are human breast milk microbiome 'neutral'?

Provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Head injuries increase after motorcycle helmet law repeal

Jun 12, 2008

Pennsylvania motorcyclists suffered large increases in head injury deaths and hospitalizations in the two years following the repeal of its motorcycle helmet law, according to a University of Pittsburgh study to be published ...

Motorcycle helmet laws found effective

Aug 30, 2006

A U.S. study suggests states not requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets may be contributing to unnecessary deaths, hospitalizations and disabilities.

Motorcycle helmets keep riders alive, review confirms

Jan 23, 2008

Fewer than half of U.S. states require every motorcycle rider — drivers and passengers — to wear a helmet; and four states have no helmet requirements whatsoever. Around the world, the same patchwork legal pattern exists.

Recommended for you

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet Sep 23, 2010
One implication might be that Black are driving slightly faster than Whites when they crash and so the "similar injuries" are perhaps not so similar.
ArtflDgr
not rated yet Sep 23, 2010
Behavior is the major difference here. If they were inclined towards more risk, or opening the machines up, borrowing them, have a willingness to ride in poor weather, or are impaired in some way, it would also be reflected in outcomes riding.

even the behavior as to riding less often or fewer years may influence the outcomes.

the events out of context as a pure number in this case was only reported because of how they came out. in other words, not because its an actual stat that means something, but because they plumbed a number with no meaning that has the right ratio for them to make an issue of it for gain. if it was the other way, this would not have been reported.

leaving out context that is critical to outcomes allows the numbers to be uneven in a way that butters their bread in our victim grievance society.

jalmy
not rated yet Sep 24, 2010
Ya bad drivers are more likely to have worse injuries if they are in an accident. No kidding. Spend more money on stupid ass research that most people can see as common sense please.
jerryd
not rated yet Sep 25, 2010

The helmet statement does not hold water. In Fl they stopped requiring helmets 5 yrs ago and deaths, injuries have not gone up/mile driven.