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The motorcyclist: Easy rider or easy victim? An analysis of motorcycle accidents in Germany

  • Marc Wick
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Dr Wick, Chirurgische Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken “Bergmannsheil,” Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany.
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Surgery and Traumatology, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken “Bergmannsheil,” University of Bochum, Germany
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  • Ernst Josef Müller
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Surgery and Traumatology, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken “Bergmannsheil,” University of Bochum, Germany
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  • Axel Ekkernkamp
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Surgery and Traumatology, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken “Bergmannsheil,” University of Bochum, Germany
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  • Gert Muhr
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Surgery and Traumatology, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken “Bergmannsheil,” University of Bochum, Germany
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      Abstract

      This report reviews the findings from 86 motorcycle accidents during a 1-year period at the Trauma Center “Bergmannsheil” in Bochum, Germany. A study of the case histories supplemented by telephone conversations yielded the following results: 90.7% of the patients were men, and the average age was 28.8 years; most of the accidents occurred in the 25- to 30-year-old age group (27.9%). Motorcycle accidents happened mostly during recreational rides on weekends in the summertime. Although there was a high rate of helmet use (98.8%), the head region was affected in 12 victims. Two patients died because of their severe head injuries (2.3%). Lower extremity injuries (46%), especially open tibia fractures (19.7%), were among the most common injuries sustained. Fractures of the distal radius constituted the largest portion of upper extremity injuries (18.8%). The average stay in our hospital was 35.4 days; 23.4% of the patients had to change jobs after the accident. Fifty percent of the crashes happened with motorcycles between 500 and 750 cc stroke volume. Although 34.5% possessed their driver's licenses for more than 8 years, they had not had much experience handling a motorbike. These results underline the fact that motorcycle accidents are sustained by young men in their working prime; as a result, these accidents pose a tremendous burden to individuals and society and every attempt should be made to offer highly qualified surgical and trauma care to minimize the damage to the motorbiker. A plea is made for more prevention measures like driver education, better road conditions, or legislative changes to prevent motorcycle crashes. The wearing of a helmet is strongly advocated.

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