Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause three times the injuries, six times the medical costs and five times the deaths, Canadian research has found.
Despite better motor vehicle safety, injuries from motorcycle crashes have not improved. Researchers looked at data on adults who presented to hospital for injuries from either a motorcycle or car crash between 2007 and 2013 in Ontario, Canada’s largest province with a population of more than 13.6m people. During the study period, 26,831 people were injured in motorcycle crashes and 281,826 injured in car crashes.
People in motorcycle injuries were younger, with a mean age of 36 years, and more likely to be men (81%) than those injured in car accidents. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents caused 3 times the injuries, 10 times the severity, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths. People with injuries from motorcycle crashes were much more likely to be hospitalised and to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) compared with car crash victims.
“The main results of our study were that each motorcycle in Ontario causes 10 times the severe injuries, 5 times the deaths, and 6 times the medical costs of each automobile,” says Daniel Pincus, author of the study, PhD candidate at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and an orthopaedic resident physician at Sunnybrook Hospital. “We know that the additional risk associated with driving a motorcycle has not translated into improvements in motorcycle safety. So we hope that estimating the medical costs of care for motorcycle crashes may provide an additional incentive to improve safety,” adds Pincus.
Before this study, there were no reliable estimates of medical costs from motorcycle accidents on a broader scale, as most calculations were from single hospitals.
“Although exact health care costs vary in other health care systems, we argue that the conclusions drawn from the relative comparison of motorcycle to automobile crashes apply beyond Canada to the rest of the developed world,” write the authors. “For example, in a privately funded health care system, insurance companies and individual providers may accept a larger share of the direct health care costs than we have estimated in this study.”
Limitations of the study include the inability to capture health care costs for outpatient rehabilitation for people with brain injury and other longer-term health needs. As they also could not capture health care spending by insurance companies and individuals or indirect costs such as missed workdays, the authors suggest that their cost estimates may be lower than in reality.
Background: There is no reliable estimate of costs incurred by motorcycle crashes. Our objective was to calculate the direct costs of all publicly funded medical care provided to individuals after motorcycle crashes compared with automobile crashes.
Methods: We conducted a population-based, matched cohort study of adults in Ontario who presented to hospital because of a motorcycle or automobile crash from 2007 through 2013. For each case, we identified 1 control absent a motor vehicle crash during the study period. Direct costs for each case and control were estimated in 2013 Canadian dollars from the payer perspective using methodology that links health care use to individuals over time. We calculated costs attributable to motorcycle and automobile crashes within 2 years using a difference-in-differences approach.
Results: We identified 26 831 patients injured in motorcycle crashes and 281 826 injured in automobile crashes. Mean costs attributable to motorcycle and automobile crashes were $5825 and $2995, respectively (p < 0.001). The rate of injury was triple for motorcycle crashes compared with automobile crashes (2194 injured annually/100 000 registered motorcycles v. 718 injured annually/100 000 registered automobiles; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 3.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.8 to 3.3, p < 0.001). Severe injuries, defined as those with an Abbreviated Injury Scale ≥ 3, were 10 times greater (125 severe injuries annually/100 000 registered motorcycles v. 12 severe injuries annually/100 000 registered automobiles; IRR 10.4, 95% CI 8.3 to 13.1, p < 0.001).
Interpretation: Considering both the attributable cost and higher rate of injury, we found that each registered motorcycle in Ontario costs the public health care system 6 times the amount of each registered automobile. Medical costs may provide an additional incentive to improve motorcycle safety.
Daniel Pincus, David Wasserstein, Avery B Nathens, Yu Qing Bai, Donald A Redelmeier, Walter P Wodchis