Purpose: To identify measures that should reduce the incidence of burn injuries resulting from motorcycle exhaust pipes through epidemiological analysis of such injuries.
Basic procedures: During a 5-year period, 251 persons who suffered burn injuries related to motorcycle exhaust pipes have contacted four major hospitals belonging to the Emergency Department Injury Surveillance System (EDISS) operating since 1996 in Greece. These burn injuries were studied in relation to person, environment and vehicle characteristics.
Main findings: The estimated countrywide incidence of burns from motorcycle exhaust pipes was 17 per 100,000 person-years (208 per 100,000 motorcycle-years). The incidence was two times higher for children than for older persons and among the latter it was 60% higher among females than among males. Most of burn injuries (70.5%) concerned motorcycle passengers, mainly when getting on or off motorcycle, with peak incidence during summer. The most frequent location of burn wounds was below the knee and particularly the right leg. It was estimated that the risk of motorcycle exhaust pipe burns when wearing shorts could be reduced by 46% through wearing long pants. Among the victims 65.3% experienced second degree burns.
Principal conclusions: Motorcycle exhaust burns could be substantially reduced by systematically wearing long pants, by incorporating in the design of motorcycles external thermo resistant shields with adequate distance to the exhaust pipe, and by avoiding riding with children on motorcycles.