Introduction: traffic accidents are one of the main causes of death and disability, with motorcyclists representing the great majority of both the victims and the perpetrators.
Objective: this work studied the characteristics of motorcyclists injured in accidents involving motorcycles and automobiles.
Method: this study sought to interview 100 motorcyclists who had been injured in collisions between motorcycles and automobiles, and who were undergoing emergency hospital treatment in the region of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The questionnaires included demographic information (age, gender, skin color, education level, profession) and questions about years of licensed driving practice, how often they would drive an automobile, how long they had had a motorcycle driver's license, how often they would ride a motorcycle, the number of prior accidents involving a car, and the number of prior accidents not involving a car.
Results: of the 100 consecutive accidents studied, 91 occurred with men and 9 with women, aged between 16 and 79 (m = 29 ± 11) years. Regarding their reason for using a motorcycle, 83% reported using it for transport, 7% for work, and 10% for leisure. Most of these accident victims had secondary or higher education (47%). Of the motorcyclists who held a car driver's license, 68.3% drove the vehicle daily or weekly and held the license for more than one year. Sixty-seven percent of the accident victims used a motorcycle daily and had a motorcycle driver's license for at least one year.
Conclusion: among the motorcyclists injured, most were men aged 20 years or older, with complete secondary education, and experienced in driving both motorcycles and cars, indicating that recklessness while driving the motorcycle is the main cause of traffic accidents.