If you are reading this, I am glad that you are a wise person that thinks before acting. Some dumbass would go all the way in. Riding any automobile comes with a general risk of injury, and motorcycle riding is no exception to this. However, there has been a big controversy about how deadly riding dirt bikes is over the years. Dirt bike deaths per year is a way to know how dangerous or less risky it is. Some people say that they prefer ATVs (if you want to know the difference, click here) to dirt bikes because they prove to be safer. How accurate is this notion?
This year, Gadnets decided to do in-depth research into this matter. We spoke to many experts, including law enforcement officers and medical practitioners in the field of emergencies. We, like you and everyone else, want to find out how many deaths have resulted from riding dirt bikes in comparison to other off-road and on-road vehicles. We now have these facts that we will share with you exclusively.
Between 2001 – 2004, it is estimated that a number of 500,000 were involved in dirt bike accidents, which had 75% of them hospitalized. In 2003, dirt bike deaths per year rose to 245 deaths among children and teens under the age of 19, including many hospitalized. However, in 2017, there is a 5.6% decrease in deaths per year from 2016. Since then, because of the prevalence of traffic laws and binding rules of safety, dirt bike deaths are going down.
They say life’s a risk, but a risk that costs people their lives, I think that is a little too expensive and I will not be part of it. So many people (maybe you too) are in love with dare-devil adventures. Hence, let us look at some interesting facts and statistics that show that dirt bikes are not altogether a death call.
Interesting Dirt Bike Statistics
Let us see what we have dubbed from everywhere we have done our research. They say numbers don’t lie, and so you can rely on these statistics as we do. The numbers will help you to form an excellent understanding of the line that separates dirt bikes from other vehicles we ride for fun. Next, we will discuss how you can avoid fatal injuries on your dirt bike. And also what you should do after you have an injury from riding your dirt bike.
See for yourself:
- More than 50% of all dirt bike injuries that require admission to the hospital all happen on race tracks. Even then, most of the vehicles used in these races are not dirt bikes. This figure shows that racing on official motocross race tracks is more dangerous than riding on trails. (Since dirt bikes are designed explicitly for trail riding).
- Supercross and Motocross racing are more likely to result in fatal injury and death than trail riding. This statistic is because of the high level of competition, stunts, and crowdedness on the race tracks.
- 15% of fatalities on ATVs occurred in the forest or the desserts. 33% of these deaths occurred on paved roads while 19% of deaths occurred on roads that are not paved.
- 50% of all fatal accidents that result from off-road riding is as a result of drinking and ‘riding.’ According to the research paper written by Patrick McDonald in 2010. This fact is still true to this day.
- Like alcohol, another leading cause of death in dirt bike riding results from not wearing helmets. Most of the dead riders are reported not to have been wearing helmets while they were riding before the accident.
- Accidents that occur on four-wheeler ATV are more likely to die from the fatality of their injuries by 50% more than those on dirt bike crashes. (We will discuss this fact in the next section).
- Almost all deaths and fatal injuries resulting from ATV riding happen to male riders.
- When an accident results in broken bones, 65% of these bone fractures are below the waist. According to another reliable source, there is a 29% chance that the bones broken in such accidents are the femur.
- 27% of brain injuries that are linked to ATV riding are as a result of a collision with immobile objects such as trees. This makes ATV riding near trees much riskier. (We will also touch this aspect as we pitch ATVs against dirt bike riding in terms of safety.
- 20% to 35% of ATV related deaths is to a child and minors under the age of 16. However, children feel safer to crash on dirt bikes in so far they have the recommended safety gear.
The following are the data we collected from the Center for Disease Control regarding dirt bike injuries. They specified though that these statistics are from the study they carried out between 2001 through 2004:
- Over 88% of injured and dead riders of off-road vehicles happen to be males.
- Children who were aged 12 to 15 had the highest rate of non-fatal traumatic cases.
- Over 60% of the victims of dirt bike accidents suffered a high level of trauma, while 35% of the injuries were merely fractured.
- Almost 9% of motocross casualties were linked to jumping stunts and show off.
- 5% of Motocross crashes and accidents are as a result of a collision with another off-road vehicle.
These statistics have since then changed and are no more settled upon. However, most of the facts still stand, and they ascertain that dirt biking or any off-road riding is very risky. Now let us take a look at the most common recorded injuries that dirt bikers have and then we will see how to avoid them. As I said earlier, the only way to not have any of these injuries is to sit in your house & play video games all day. If you want to get out and fly, feeling the adrenaline rush through your veins, you have to learn how to avoid these problems.
Most Common Dirt Bikes Injuries
From experience, I can tell you that the general causes of dirt bike fatal crashes are
- riding very fast on uneven terrain,
- falling while trying a jumping stunt,
- and collisions with objects like other vehicles, houses, trees, or even stumps.
In case of an accident, the most common areas that get significantly affected are the arm, neck, or head. Apart from fractures, abrasions, and sprains are usually diagnosed. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Broken Collarbone. For the most part, when there is a crash on a dirt bike, the biker is thrown off the bike. When you fall, the first instinct is to stretch out your arms to impact it. In this case, however, the fall is a throw, and there is a high force in the velocity. Thus when you hit the ground or any surface with your arms outstretched, the pressure is enacted on your collarbones. It gets so severe that a victim wears a sling and splint for up to two months. Some cases may even require surgery.
- Dislocation of the Shoulder. In some fatal cases, either the collar bones get fractured, or the shoulder joints dislocate. In rare cases, both occur. This injury can be intensely painful. The recovery time is based on the severity of the trauma. However, many victims get better with rehabilitation exercises recommended by the doctor after the pain is gone. This exercise will help the victim to be able to use their shoulder as frequently. It usually takes one or two weeks.
- Broken Wrists. This is also a result of falling off the bike. It is a painful injury. It may be a single bone or multiple fractures in the wrist or wrists. This injury is very severe and would need surgeons to operate to realign the bones. After the surgery, the wrist will be placed in a cast for 6 to 8 weeks and undergo physiotherapy after.
- Broken Ankle. Unlike the others we have been looking at, a dirt bike rider may break his ankles when he gets hit by another dirt bike. Ankles can also break when bikes fall on the dirt bike rider. In case of a broken bone, surgery is also carried out to realign the bones. Then the leg is put in a cast after which you go through physiotherapy.
- Rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is one of the ligaments in the knee joint. The ACL connects the bottom of the thigh bone (femur) to the top of the shin bone (tibia). The ACL helps keep the knee stable. A rupture can happen when a rider tries to do a stunt in which he jumps while bending his knee. This is the most common trauma during off-road riding. It is also the most severe. A rider can take a whole year to recover from this injury. It may require surgery and physiotherapy.
Which is Safer to Ride? – Dirt Bike vs. ATV
At the onset of this article, I mentioned how controversial this topic is. I will not take sides. I am not going to try a convince you in any way. I will only show you some facts, and from there, you will choose for yourself which is safer between dirt bikes or four-wheeled ATVs.
I also said that numbers don’t lie. So this article is not based only on my opinion, (I have said I would not be biased in any way). One of the studies we cited among the statistics is the study made by John Hopkins and his team on the fatality of ATVs over dirt bikes. He stated that ATVs and other four-wheeled off-road vehicles are more deadly than dirt bikes. Half of the victims of ATV crashes were found to be more likely to die from the trauma than dirt bike riders. This could be the result of various reasons, but glaring one is the fact that ATVs are relatively heavier than dirt bikes. Imagine a crash where a dirt bike falls on the rider, and he survives it. Do you think an ATV rider can survive a similar feat?
Victims of ATV related accidents have 55% more probability of being admitted to the ICU after a crash. About 42% are placed in ventilators than injured dirt bike riders. Of the 500,000 traffic deaths recorded between 2000 to 2004, more than half were as a result of accidents on ATVs. If you think that ATVs are safer than dirt bikes, please consider having a rethink.
When looking at the reasons why ATV fatalities overshadow that of dirt bikes, experts cannot ascertain. However, one thing is sure: it is possible for ATV riders to use less protective equipment than dirt bike riders, and can sometimes even ride with just a t-shirt and shorts comfortably. There are no rigid rules that ATV riders must use a helmet or wear protective gear. This creates a gigantic illusion of safety for dirt bike riders.
Another thing that feels to experts as an illusion of safety on an ATV is the fact that it has four wheels. The rider might think that he doesn’t need to worry so much about balance as he would on a dirt bike. In theory, four wheels are supposed to make ATVs more stable than dirt bikes and therefore safer. However, an ATV rider should be wary of the fact that there are no crash protection mechanics and lateral stability for the rider. Thus, he is at great risk, especially when he hits a stump, a tree, or even another rider.
ATVs are giants with big sturdy tires. Even though they are designed with many amazing features such as power steering, the manufacturers of ATVs have not successfully removed the risks of overturns and the vehicle rolling over the rider. ATVs are more likely to run over the riders. If you hit something, you would likely get thrown off. Because a dirt bike commonly weighs about 200 pounds, a rider will survive a rollover. But the average ATV weighs around 600 to 900 pounds.
ATVs are generally not as safe as dirt bikes if you use the recommended protective gear. Dirt bikes are easy to control because of their lightweight. I can’t say that for ATVs (Now that is my personal opinion).
How Can You Stay Safe On A Dirt Bike?
Dirt biking is not as simple and stresses free as you see on TV. Those guys have many years of experience in riding professionally. (If you are a newbie, this guide will help you get up on the right foot to a professional level). Point ion case, everybody (no matter how professional you are) is prone to these crashes but the more you practice, you will master the throttle and clutch control, balance, and positioning on the bike.
You would also see that you need to be more mentally and physically alert when riding a dirt bike. You will need it to make swift decisions in a split second. A bad or slow action can be deadly in many situations. These are some of the main things you need to keep in mind and good shape:
#1 – Clothing
If you usually watch dirt bike racing on TV, you would see how dirt bikers wear jerseys that rep certain brands. Dirt bike jerseys are unique because they must be breathable to keep the rider fresh through the hot days and warm in the cold. You may like stretchable and light fabric. That is good for when you want to ride along wooded regions. The materials protect your arms from scuffs and scrapes. For pants, you must wear breathable and durable pants instead of thin and loose-fitting. This will ensure resistance to abrasion. Off-road boots have essential features like a durable outsole, good ankle movement, a protective shin plate, lightweight design, and breathability. As the next article, we will be writing about the best dirt bike boots. Make sure to come and see the post.
Moreover, you should get motocross gloves that will protect your hands against burns and abrasions, and the formation of blisters. Suitable dirt bike gloves encourage hand endurance by offering padding to lessen vibration. (Click here for the most comprehensive guide for the best dirt bike gloves for all-weather).
#2 – Protective Gear
You must wear protective gear if you want to be safe riding a dirt bike. You need a full-face helmet. (Here are our recommendations for the best helmets for kids, women, and men.) A full-face helmet is more than the design, and it keeps your brains safe. When a rider falls on his head, there is a rotational force that acts on the fluids inside their head. This force can change the position of the brain and cause the rider to go into convulsions or even a coma. It also has a jaw protector that ensures that you do not break your jaw or get your knock out your teeth.
Good helmets come with a very wide viewport because the more you can see, the better your riding experience.
You also need high-quality goggles that will protect your eyes from debris, mud, and rain as you ride in full speed. As you ride, these elements will splash against you, no doubt.
To protect your knees, which is probably the most susceptible part of the body during off-road riding, you must get knee braces. Good knee braces are adjustable so that you feel comfortable no matter the size of your leg. Good braces should be strong and lightweight. Most good knee braces are made of carbon fiber.
Another one of the essential gears you need is a neck brace. A neck brace ensures that your spinal cord is protected. To see the more protective equipment that is not mentioned here, click here.
How To Avoid Accidents
The best way to avoid accidents is to be safe. You have to learn safety as you learn dirt biking. I recommend that you get your dirt bike riding license or permit. That way, you will be guided on ways through which you can get access to a hands-on riding course. (If you need help getting a license or a permit for your dirt bike, click here). An excellent safety course will help you become a better dirt bike rider and also instill many safety skills in you that will help you avoid crashes and accidents.
Never ride solo. If you ride with a group of other riders, you will quickly get help whenever you need one.
Based on the many bad stories we hear every day, nobody under the age of 16 should be left to ride a dirt bike without parental monitoring. In many lands, it is even prohibited for children to ride dirt bikes. However, it is an exciting family sport. (This is where I answered the question of whether dirt biking is safe for a family or not. Click to read it.)
Any hobby that is as exciting as dirt bike must come with risks. If you are willing to take risks, you will only enjoy dirt biking if you do it right. A common debate among outdoor enthusiasts is the safety of dirt bikes in comparison to ATVs. Whatever you think, statics prove that ATVs are more dangerous than dirt bikes. If you follow all safety procedures and value your life, what you will sing every day is “Oh, How enjoyable dirt biking is!”