Motorcycle crash injuries cost more to treat than car crash: study

Peter Cameron, The Canadian Press
November 23, 2017
Written by Peter Cameron, The Canadian Press
Motorcyclists in Ontario are three times more likely to be injured in a collision than people in automobiles, 10 times more likely to suffer serious injuries and those injuries will cost more to treat, a new study suggests.

The study from researchers at the University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Science was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

It tracked Ontario adults who went to hospital because of a motorcycle or automobile crash from 2007 through 2013 and calculated the costs of their treatment over a two-year period.

It found treatment of a motorcycle crash's injuries will cost, on average, nearly twice as much – $5,825 – as those suffered by a person in a car, pegged at $2,995.

"We found that motorcyclists were much more likely to have severe extremity injuries – even mangled extremities or traumatic amputations," said Dr. Daniel Pincus, an orthopedic resident physician at Sunnybrook who is one of the study's authors.

The rate of injury was triple for motorcycle crashes compared with automobile crashes – 2,194 injuries a year per 100,000 registered motorcycles as opposed to 718 injuries annually per 100,000 registered automobiles.

"When a crash does happen the result seemed to be more devastating consistently for a motorcyclist," Pincus said.

The study looked at 26,831 patients injured in motorcycle crashes and 281,826 injured in car crashes, and excluded patients from outside the province.

It found 81 per cent of patients who were in motorcycle crashes were men compared with car crash patients, who were 57 per cent female.

The study's authors said they hope the higher medical costs associated with motorcycle crash injuries provide incentive to improve motorcycle safety.

"Despite publicly available data indicating that the risk associated with driving a motorcycle is much greater than that associated with driving an automobile, this knowledge has not translated to improvements in motorcycle safety," the authors said.

The study also pointed to statistics indicating that motorcycles, on average, are driven only a fifth the distance of a car in Ontario and, Pincus said, are much more dangerous than cars on a per-kilometre basis.

Research quoted in the study found that between 2000 and 2010, automobile crash deaths decreased by 55.1 per cent in 19 developed countries, while deaths and injuries in motorcycle crashes remained stable during the same time period.

But Pincus said the motorcycle crash statistics in Ontario "have gotten worse."

"The number of people dying related to motorcycle crashes in Ontario is worse today than it was in 1997," he said. "Some of it will never be preventable as motorcycle trauma's always going to be worse."

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