Motorcycles do not offer the same degree of protection as traditional passenger vehicles. This means California motorcycle riders face serious head and other injury risks in the event of a bike crash. However, studies show that when motorcycle riders have passengers riding on the backs of their bikes, the passengers face even more significant head injury risks.
According to Reuters, one of the main reasons motorcycle passengers face higher head injury risks than those riding the bikes is because passengers are less likely to wear helmets than those controlling the bikes. Also, passengers are more likely to experience ejection from the motorcycle in the event of a crash than the person steering the bike. The person sitting at the bike’s controls has the handlebars to hold onto and the windshield offering some protection in the event of a wreck. These factors make ejection from the bike less likely.
Researchers reviewed crashes involving about 86,000 motorcycle drivers and passengers and found that traumatic brain injuries were the most common injury suffered by both groups. However, motorcycle passengers suffered traumatic brain injuries in 40% of bike crashes, while the people driving the bikes only suffered TBIs in 36% of instances.
Of the 86,000 motorcycle passengers and drivers studied, about two-thirds of those driving the bikes reported wearing helmets while doing so. However, only about 57% of those riding on the backs of the bikes did the same.
Even when motorcycle drivers and passengers both wear helmets, those riding on the bike are still more likely to experience TBIs in bike crashes than drivers.