Survival Rates for Motorcycle Accidents

A friend claims that his riding partner recently survived a loss of control and skid at 90 mph, being thrown free of the bike. More than this, he claims the friend survived without serious injury. I find this extremely difficult to believe. Does anyone have any good statistics on survival rates for those thrown from motorcycles? Better than that, what kind of kinetic energy can be expected from a tumble-and-skid off a motorcycle?

IANA motorcycle expert, or even a rider, but it sounds possible. I wouldn’t want to try it, though.

If he fell as a result of losing control and skidding, rather than because of hitting something, and he were wearing good protective clothing, and he were able to fall properly, he might be able to slide along the ground for some distance without serious injury. Professional racers take spills at these speeds quite often, and walking away from them isn’t uncommon.

I think the guy’s very lucky, but not impossibly so.

As for kinetic energy, KE=1/2mv[sup]2[/sup], so if he’s 75kg and is travelling at 40m/s (90mph), then his KE is 60,000 Joules. If all this energy went into the initial impact, it would be equivalent to falling from a height of 80m. In this case, however, he’s hitting the ground at a very oblique angle, so he can lose his kinetic energy much more gradually. His body position, the material of his clothes, and the condition of the road all have a very big effect on the extent of his injuries.

I don’t follow the sport much, but I’ve seen televised bike racing accidents where the riders had to be doing in excess of 100mph. Looked bloody terrifying, but a larger-than-I’d-believed-possible number of them walked away.

Having said that (as has been mentioned) they were wearing the best possible protective clothing.

I don’t actually have a handy cite, but usually it is accepted that the actually accident, as in hitting the ground, usually happens at around 30mph.

There are two major types of accident though, a low side where you slid down the road, and a high side when you flip over the front of the bike. A low side is usually perfered because you get away from the bike, in a high side the bike can actaully land on you, not fun.

Safety gear is also important in how you come out of an accident. I would sometimes not wear boots and once I hit a deer and low sided. Would have been fine except for my foot. Had I been wearing boots I would not have need to goto the hospital.

There’s a guy here at work who took a motorcycle training course. He said they’re taught to not try and regain control if you start to wipe out–effectively doing the opposite of what you’d do in a car (i.e. steer into the skid) but rather lie the bike down, gun the engine (so the back wheel will slide easier) then try to kick the bike away. If the bike is in front of you, it (a) it has a little padding so if it hits a tree or something, you’ll hit the “softer” bike rather than the barrier, and (b) if you were got in front, you’d hit the barrier then the bike would hit you.

As for the survivability … dunno. I gather that it’s the opposite of car accidents: if you’re “ejected from the vehicle” it’s good in a motorcycle accident and bad in a car accident.

To the OP question, nationally about 3 deaths occur every 100 accidents. I would surmise that in nearly all motorcycle accidents the rider is separated from the bike at some point, but the stats do not specify “thrown”.

CAUTION: Cite is not meant to bring helmet laws into this debate.

Edward The Head, you hit a DEER? Ouch.

I’ve gone down twice, once at 75 in a turn when the bike hit some sand in the road and shot out from under me, and once when I had to leave the road at 60 and enter an orange grove. The worst injury I had from both was coming down from the adrenaline high afterwards. When I was younger and much dumber, I raced snowmobiles and took more than a few spills around 90 and only had one fairly significant injury.

In a skid accident, the biggest danger isn’t hitting the ground, or being on the ground, but hitting something or getting run over. You just slide along until you stop, which doesn’t really take too long. Nothing unbelievable at all to me about your friends story. I do agree that he is lucky, but it happens to a lot of riders. Real luck though is Edward. A friend of mine hit a deer once and got himself AFU in a bad way. Animals scare me more than cars.

That’s the exact opposite of what I was taught in my motorcycle safety course.
Instructors with the Canada Safety Council said “If you ask someone exactly how they went about laying a bike down, they won’t be able to tell you.”

The only statistics I’ve seen regarding motorcycle accidents are part of the Hurt Report (the guy’s name is Hurt…), which is more than 20 years old. Summaries can be found by doing a quick search. But my main concern as a rider is looking at what leads to accidents so I can focus on prevention, rather than knowing what the overall fatality rate is.

This is old info, like from the 70s. My father told me that they told him to do the same thing. David Hough, has said just the opposite. Hough is a writter of motorcycle safety and general motorcycle riding. He says not to do this because plastic/metal does not have the traction that tires/brakes do and that if he was going to hit something he’d perfer to do it as slow as possible, ie grab as much brake as you can. Oddly enough he had an accident a few months ago where he did slid the bike because I think he was going to slid off a cliff. (don’t remember the whole story off the top of my head)

As for my deer story, it was almost 4 years ago, I got to go as a motorcycle accident for halloween! I didn’t get enough time to do anything and I picked her up right between the legs, I can still see the whites of her eyes and hear the grunt. I could have walked away fine except my right foot got caught under the bike. I think I ended up a good 100 feet or so away from the bike when I got out from under it. You’d be amazed at how quick the mind says “Oh shit” when you know your gonna hit something.

i just got back from an track practice day in which I managed to wreck twice on mine. First was a 50mpg lowside, I and the bike slid 50-60 feet. I have a bad road rash on my elbow where the concrete ate through my leather suit. Bike was basically undamaged(I have frame sliders on it). Next was at the end of the day, I ran wide in a turn, and instead of standing the bike up and grabbing all the break I could, and then running off, I tried to make it through the turn. Bike slipped off the track, rear wheel spun up, hit a bump, and tossed me off. I was at lean angle on the bike, so I didn’t go over the handle bars, but off and to the side, across the track, landing facefirst into the pavement. This one was at 75mph(or maybe slightly faster). Bike got trashed pretty bad, but after sliding 100 feet and rolling a few times, I got up, stood the bike up, and started it. The adrenaline keeps anything from hurting too bad right away.

Next day though, I was dragging my ass into the doctor to get full Xrays. Nothing broken, a mild concussion, and alot of bruises.

I was wearing an Arai Quantum helmet, a Teknic Speedstar suit, Sidi race boots and race gloves. Gloves had a couple of seams pop from the slide, helmet is of course ruined, and the suit has 3-4 holes that need to be patched, but considering the speeds I fell at and the distances I slid/tumbled, I would say they worked remarkably well.

If anyone wants to ride without a helmet, I have an interesting picture of what the pavement did to my faceshield, in case you want to imagine if that was your face.

I definatly agree with you there, I had a low speed low side (bike slid out from under me) and it seemed like it slid forever… well at least until it it the curb :eek: .

However I belive what NeedAHobby is trying to say is different than intentionaly laying the bike down to avoid an accident. I belive what he (or his friend) is saying is a ‘low side’ is much less dangerous than a ‘high side’. By trying to prevent a low side crash you could cause much more dangerous high side.

A ‘low side’ usually happens when the bike is leaned into a corner and a tire looses traction. Usually because of too much power being applied to the rear tire. Since you are only a couple feet off the ground as long as you have proper protective clothing and don’t slide into anything you have a very good chance of having only minor injuries even at high speed as the stories above indicate.

A high side is usually caused by tring to ‘save’ a low side. If a low side is caused by to much power to the rear wheel (causing it to loose traction) and the rider cuts the power the tire can abruptly gain traction and cause the bike lauch the rider into the air. This is much more dangerous than a low side accident.