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 Motorcycle Safety
 Contrary Opinions
 The negative side of wearing a helmet and gear
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Halap
Male Junior Member
60 Posts


Brooklyn, NY
USA

Suzuki

M50

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  8:25 AM                       Like
I had dinner with an old friend last night. She just came back from Miami where she completed a 2 year residency program in emergency surgery at a level 1 regional trauma center. When she saw my bike, I was expecting her to call me crazy (and she did), and then we got into a very interesting discussion of gear. Having worked in a helmet-free state, she saw the direct results of both ATGATT and jeans-t-shirt-no helmet crashes, and her views on gear are quite unexpected. She's all for pads, leather and full-face helmet for low-speed riding, as they prevent injury effectively at lower kinetic energies. However, she feels that in really bad crashes, when the total energy of the crash exceeds what your body can absorb, medicine is powerless to put you back together, but if you wear a full face helmet, chances are your brain is still alive and you feel everything right up to your inevitable demise... or worse, end up on a ventilator and put your loved ones through the heart wrenching decision to turn you off and let you die.

So, to sum up, this particular doc believes that motorcycling is inherently dangerous, and while helmet and gear is good to minimize discomfort after a low energy event, it is actually detrimental in a high kinetic energy crash. A full face helmet prevents you from dying, but in her words "After a certain point, that's not a good thing".


Thoughts?


P.S. On the other hand, she believes that bicyclists should be forced by law to wear full face helmets, since their current ones don't protect the rider from facial injuries when he goes over the handle bars (the most common type of high speed crash for bicycles). Docs are funny people.

rmack75
Male Standard Member
107 Posts


Eatontown, NJ
USA

Victory

Vegas 8-Ball

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  8:43 AM
I have a cousin who is an emergency medicine doctor and he basically has the same view. But then he also has a fatalstic view on motorcycling to begin with. I am sure we have all heard doctors referring to riders as organ donors. I guess the bottom line is we all know the risks and as for me personally, while I can see the arguments, they also seem distinctly anti motorcycle and shed light on the damage you would cause yourself and your loved ones should the worst case scenario occur. I for one will continue to wear my gear because I want to give myself every opportunity to survive in the event of the worst case scenario. I will also continue to ride responsibly in hopes of avoiding the scenario all together.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17284 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  8:54 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Right, a helmet preventing death (or worse) during a crash at 70 MPH is unlikely. On the other hand, very FEW collisions happen at that kind of speed. Motorcyclists tend to use their brakes when a collision is imminent. That slows them down and that means a typical crash happens at a speed MUCH below 70 MPH - no matter how fast the bike was traveling when the collision became inevitable.

Sounds like braking skills and helmets make a good pair.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1690 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  9:37 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
Originally posted by Halap
but if you wear a full face helmet, chances are your brain is still alive




That sounds like an endorsement of the effectiveness of helmets to me.
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TonicBIA
Male Senior Member
382 Posts


Arlington, Va
USA

Triumph

Sprint ST

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  10:55 AM
It takes all kinds.

While the organ donor comment abounds, if you talk to a knowledgeable transplant surgeon you'll learn it's not very accurate. The organs harvested from a crash with enough trauma to be fatal are very rarely viable. I worked with an entire transplant department at INOVA Fairfax, a level 1 trauma center, for three years during a genomics project investigating the pathogenesis of fibrosis in lung, liver and heart. It's a great saying for the fatalistic though.
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dhalen32
Male Moderator
841 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

BMW

R1200RT

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  6:49 AM
Halap:
I agree with your old friend; in a conditional way however. I run into this argument frequently with my debate partners from ABATE in our bi-annual soiree during the public hearing to drop Nebraska's universal helmet law.

They contend, much like your doctor friend, that accidents occur at high speeds and that helmets won't do much good other than doom a person to a life of long term care. They feel that to die would be a better fate than to live a life of "low quality". The low quality of life part of that argument actually strikes a chord with me personally.

However, like Jim, I believe that most crashes occur at low enough speeds that it is actually the vertical fall to the pavement where most damage to a person's brain occurs when head hits asphalt or concrete. Thus wearing a helmet for the majority of most crashes strikes me as logical.

So ... in a perfect world, I would like to own a helmet that works to preserve my brain in the majority of low energy/low speed crashes but that is somehow smart enough to not protect me and prolong my life in the high speed/high energy crashes that she told you about. Could you please invent something like that?
Dave
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Moses
Male Senior Member
377 Posts
[Mentor]


Grand Rapids, Michigan
USA

Harley-Davidson

FX Softail

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  9:00 AM
It sounds as though the doctor in question might only be considering the outcomes of high-speed crashes.

For high-speed (highway speed) crashes, the factors to consider are whether you'd rather be dead, or live the rest of your life as a vegetable. Worthy of consideration, to be sure, however...

Another thing that's just as worthy of consideration is this; if a crash occurs at a lower speed, so that a helmet can make a significant difference in the severity of the injuries sustained by the rider, would you rather live your life as a relatively unscathed survivor of a crash, or as a badly disfigured survivor?

Case in point - take a look back at the picture of Scott Nelson's helmet after his crash. His crash might not have been fatal had he been helmetless, but I doubt that his face and head would have weathered those scrapes and gouges as well as his helmet did.

A "worst case scenario" might not actually be the worst case. I say that if you add up any and all of the pros and cons about wearing a helmet, the results will heavily favor the helmet, every time.
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  9:05 AM
Halap, I think that your friends anecdotal argument is the type of discussion that reflects rather sophomoric thinking as befits a second year resident whom is without specific knowledge of the physics and kinematics of high speed motorcycle crashes and the various factors of energy dissipation that may be involved prior to the rider coming to rest. You might want to suggest to your friend they she watch some Moto GP racing on TV or watch some racing at a local track so as to get some idea of what a high speed crash actually looks like. Ask her if she thinks it would be wise advice that helmets be used at the option of the competitors rather than a mandate of the competition rules.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6887 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  1:10 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Moses

Case in point - take a look back at the picture of Scott Nelson's helmet after his crash. His crash might not have been fatal had he been helmetless, but I doubt that his face and head would have weathered those scrapes and gouges as well as his helmet did.
Note also that I was going somewhere between 60 and 70 mph at the time of that crash, which I consider high speed. I didn't impact anything but the road. It's possible to have other high speed crashes, even in traffic, without any sudden stops.

I think too many people are assuming that a crash from a given speed involves a sudden stop, which is often not the case.
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HaveBikeWillTravel
Male New Member
16 Posts


Santa Maria, CA.
USA

Harley-Davidson

Softail Custom

Posted - 02/01/2013 :  4:32 PM
There is nothing like enjoying the entire experience of riding. In the wind at speed, hair blowing back in your girl friends face, bugs, birds & road debris from other vehicles hitting you in the face. Gotta love it .
Its all good till something goes wrong. I watched a rider get punched from behind while turning on to a main street here. The twit was too busy yaking on the phone while looking at her passenger. Did I mention she was speeding? Rider & bike went sliding across the road surface. He hit face first & slid. The good part was he had a full face modular helmet on, heavy leavy leather jacket, chaps & gloves.. The lower chin bar was pretty much destroyed. Not one scratch on his face. Rest of his gear still looked pretty damn good.
Like they say its that sudden stop that will get you.
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Night Train
Male Advanced Member
1667 Posts
[Mentor]


Sydney, Nova Scotia
Canada

Harley-Davidson

99 Sportster XL 1200

Posted - 02/02/2013 :  4:35 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Halap, I think your friend has been exposed to some of the more serious situations and formed her opinion based on that. Some may scoff at her opinion but for one, I certainly respect it. I also realize that regardless of how many years or miles one rides, they can find themselves in a situation that could put them in your friends care and be one of those hapless victims to which she refers.

Having survived a serious car accident, endured the years of rehab, and live with the permanent disabilities, I have no wish to relive another such incident. I wear my gear and ride in a manner to hopefully avoid that. However, I have no wish to survive any accident that would put me back in that situation. That is one reason why I haven't been able to get into a full face helmet. In a high speed crash, I don't want to get hurt I simply don't want to survive.
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bachman1961
Male Advanced Member
2263 Posts
[Mentor]


colorado springs, co
USA

Honda

CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 02/02/2013 :  7:37 AM

Don't let them fool you.
If Doctors got a reduced rate on Malpractice Insurance, they'd all wear helmets walking the hospital corridors or while performing surgery.

Seriously though... the first thing I think of when reading this(assuming the above mentioned Doctors are non-riders) are all the "expert opinions we hear from the non-riding public.

~brian
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Alabusa
Male Senior Member
254 Posts


Muscle Shoals, Alabama
USA

Suzuki

Extreme

Posted - 02/02/2013 :  5:41 PM
Not to put too fine a point on it, I would trust a first year Moto3 rider's opinion more than this doctor's.
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Horse
Senior Member
263 Posts


Newbury, Berkshire
United Kingdom

BMW

R850RT

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  5:24 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Alabusa

Not to put too fine a point on it, I would trust a first year Moto3 rider's opinion more than this doctor's.



Here's something you probably can trust:

http://www.georgeinstitute.org/abou...just-weather

An Australian study providing new evidence on the injury reduction benefits of motorcycle clothing in crashes will be launched in Sydney today. The study, led by Liz de Rome, Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health at The University of Sydney, is the first of its kind and will be published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

This is the first study in over 25 years to examine the effectiveness of specialised motorcycle protective clothing and in particular, body armour. It is also the first to control for the contribution of other factors that may affect the severity of injury, such as speed or type of impact and age of rider.

One of the key findings of the study, which was funded by Australia?s leading motorcycle insurer Swann Insurance and involved 212 motorcycle and scooter riders, was that riders were significantly less likely to be admitted to hospital if they crashed wearing a motorcycle jacket, pants or gloves.

Ms de Rome said ?One of the most important findings was the difference it made to be wearing body armour, particularly for hands and knees.?

When garments included fitted body armour there was a significantly reduced risk of any injury. This included a reduced risk of any injury to the upper body by 23%, legs by 39%, hands by 45% and feet by 45%. The results also found riders wearing shoes or joggers had a much higher risk of foot and ankle injuries, as any type of boot reduced risk of injury by 53%.

While there are limits to the extent clothing can prevent injury in high impact crashes, it is in low impact crashes that protective clothing is thought to offer the greatest injury reduction. There is also evidence that the majority of motorcycle crashes do not involve high impacts.

Ms de Rome commented, ?Over 200 motorcyclists die and a further 8,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads each year. For many years, motorcycle safety research has been dominated by debate about the effectiveness of helmets with less focus on other protection for the rider?s body.

?With the increasing human and economic costs of motorcycle injuries around the world, there was a need for research into the effectiveness of protective clothing. We hope that the results of this study will show riders that their gear protects them from more than just the weather, encouraging them to wear more protective clothing which will in turn help reduce injuries.?

The results of the study also send a clear message to the manufacturers of motorcycle protective clothing. The proportion of jackets (29%), pants (28%) and gloves (25%) that failed under crash conditions due to material damage indicates a need for improved quality control.

While mandating usage of protective clothing is not recommended by the study?s authors, consideration could be given to providing incentives for usage of protective clothing, such as tax exemptions for safety gear, health insurance premium reductions and rebates.

Co-investigator, Associate Professor Rebecca Ivers, Director of Injury Research at the George, Institute said ?This is ground breaking research. It sends a clear message to riders that protection is important every time they ride, and highlights the need for further investment by Government to encourage riders to wear appropriate clothing, and to work with the industry to improve the quality of products available?.



http://www.georgeinstitute.org/site...tit_2011.pdf
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Alabusa
Male Senior Member
254 Posts


Muscle Shoals, Alabama
USA

Suzuki

Extreme

Posted - 02/04/2013 :  11:51 AM
^^^^^^
Hence the reason my minimum gear includes: Sliders 4.0 pants with optional ce knee pads, leather jacket with ce pads, armored gloves and a Shoei lid.
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