Lower extremity injuries from motorcycle crashes: a common cause of preventable injury

J Trauma. 1994 Sep;37(3):358-64. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199409000-00004.


Lower extremity injuries are among the most common injuries sustained by motorcycle riders in crashes and often lead to extended and costly medical treatment and permanent disability. This study characterizes lower extremity injuries in a group of 700 motorcycle riders in crashes in Los Angeles County from July 1, 1988, through October 31, 1989. Motorcycle crash fatalities (n = 163) were identified through the Los Angeles County Coroner's office, and nonfatally injured riders (n = 537) were identified at four of the ten level I and level II trauma centers in the county. Lower extremity injuries were diagnosed in 301 (56%) of nonfatally injured and in 75 (46%) of fatally injured riders. Fractures were the most common lower extremity injury and were diagnosed in 52% and 42% of riders with nonfatal and fatal injuries, respectively. Over a third of all fractures were to the tibia or fibula. Drivers and passengers did not differ in their risk for lower extremity injuries. Multiple-vehicle collisions resulted in a higher risk of lower extremity injuries than did single-vehicle collisions. The highest risk for lower extremity fractures was observed among riders in broadside collisions in which another vehicle struck the motorcycle (risk ratio = 2.7). Modifications in vehicle design and rider apparel may prevent some lower extremity injuries in motorcycle crashes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Leg Injuries / etiology
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Motorcycles*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies