Women are more likely to suffer traumatic injuries in motorcycle accidents than in other types of road traffic, according to new research published online in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers surveyed 1,000 women who had been involved in motorcycle crashes.
They found that female riders were much more likely than men to suffer injuries including spinal fractures, broken bones and skull fractures.
“We’re seeing more of the same in terms of spinal injuries,” said lead author Sarah McLean, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
“The problem is there’s not enough research on female-on-male crashes.
We’re finding that the most common injuries are fractures, including the ones you’re seeing in women.”
McLean and her team took the first step towards understanding the extent of the gender disparity in the number of spinal fractures in female riders by comparing the data for the Australian National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (ATHSA) and the Australian Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (AISA) on women who died on the road in the past 10 years.
The results showed that in 2009, the average number of women on the motorbike in the ATHSA was 11 per cent.
The average number was just over 15 per cent in the Australian Safety Council’s database.
Women were more likely in that decade to have sustained spinal fractures compared with other groups of road users, including road workers, cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
In 2009, women were also five times more likely, on average, to have died in a motorcycle crash than male riders.
“There are definitely more women on bikes,” McLean said.
“That’s not surprising.
It’s a gender issue.”
But McLean stressed that the results didn’t tell the whole story.
“The most important thing is that women who were injured in a motorbike crash were more often injured by a collision than were those who were not injured,” she said.
In the meantime, McLean and colleagues looked at other factors such as injury history and motorbike riding style.
They also analysed data on injuries recorded by the AISA and AISA’s national database of motorcyclist fatalities.
The research found that women were more than twice as likely as men to be involved in motorbike crashes when compared with women who did not ride motorcycles.
The study also found that the number one cause of death among women who travelled alone was motorbike collisions.
But McLean also pointed out that the data suggested that “there’s more to it than that.”
The results could help to identify a gap in the motorcycle helmet and seatbelt legislation, which currently applies to women, and to reduce the impact of the crash.
“It’s not a matter of just women, because men do travel alone more,” she told ABC News.
“We know that women have a higher risk of injury.
We know that a lot of men are more susceptible to fractures.”
McKean said the data showed that women needed to be aware of the risk they were putting themselves in when they travel alone and be able to take precautions to reduce their risk of being injured.
“You need to be able and willing to take those risks, whether you’re riding a motorcycle or not, because you’re going to be a little bit more vulnerable,” she explained.
“And if you’re on a motorcycle, you can wear a helmet and you can take those precautions, and that’s not going to help you.”