Motorcycle passengers more prone to head injuries than drivers

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Motorcycle Accidents

A recent study involving the habits of close to 86,000 motorcycle riders and passengers is revealing surprising information about how often those within each group suffer head injuries in crashes. Whenever you take to Washington’s roadways on a motorcycle, you face certain safety risks. However, study results reveal that your chances of a serious head injury are higher when you ride on the back of the bike, rather than steer it.

According to Reuters, motorcycle drivers are more likely to wear helmets when traveling by bike than those who ride motorcycles as passengers. This plays a role in why your chance of a traumatic brain injury is notably higher as a passenger than a driver.

Head injury statistics

While your chance of suffering a TBI in a motorcycle crash is about 4% higher when you ride on the back of a bike than it is when you drive it, head injuries remain the most common type of injury experienced by both groups. In the recent large-scale study, passengers wound up suffering serious head injuries in 40% of bike crashes. The drivers of the bikes suffered serious head injuries in 36% of instances.

Helmet use statistics

When it comes to helmet use, the drivers of the bikes wear helmets about two-thirds of the time. Passengers only wear helmets in 57.5% of cases. Interestingly, though, study results reveal that your odds of suffering a TBI are higher as a passenger than a driver even when you are wearing a helmet.

Bike passengers who wore helmets suffered severe head injuries in 36% of motorcycle wrecks. The drivers of the bikes only did so in just over 30% of cases.

Contributing factors

Why might you face a more substantial risk of a head injury as a motorcycle passenger, as opposed to a driver? Drivers have the bike’s windshield offering at least some degree of protection between them and the roadway. Drivers are also more likely to have firm grips on the motorcycles, themselves, whereas passengers tend to cling to the drivers.


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