Black riders in more danger




"Ricky, you know that helmet ain’t gonna save your ass."

If you’re black, ride a motorcycle, and live in the United States, you’re 50 percent more likely to die from a crash than your white friends.

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that African-American riders were more likely to be wearing helmets at the time of a crash but were still more likely to die. Helmet for helmet, said the study’s senior author, African-Americans have deadlier injuries.

The researcher said a number of factors could influence racial survival rates, including preferences for different kinds of motorcycles or helmets, available health care, and previous injuries or health conditions. More research is needed, he said.

But in the study, which looked at the records of more than 60,000 motorcycle crash victims between 2002 and 2006, when factors such as severity of injury and insurance status were controlled, black riders were 1.5 times more likely to die. They were also one-third more likely to be wearing helmets.

When crashes occurred, African-American riders who wore helmets were more likely to die than caucasian riders who did not wear helmets, but black riders who did not wear helmets were more likely still to be killed.


  1. I had a reply from Jack to my earlier comment. I tried to reply to his comments on my posting as to why I thought this would lead to the live free or die contigent arguing for the removal of helmet laws. My comments were based upon the following words in the article – “When crashes occurred, African-American riders who wore helmets were more likely to die than caucasian riders who did not wear helmets.” I believe that statistic could easily be used to construe that helmets don’t necessarily save lives, an unfortunate conclusion to the report.

  2. How does this assist the life-free or die contingent? Regardless of race, wearing a helmet decreases your chances of being killed in a motorcycle accident.
    What bugs me about the way these studies are reported is that they don’t say the absolute risk. 50% greater than what? Turns out the rate of death over the entire population of motorcyclists is 55 per 100,000. So lets say Caucasians are around 40/100,000 and African Americans are around 60/100,000. The risks of being killed in a motorcycle accident are still very low, regardless of race.

  3. Unfortunately statistics like these only assist the “live free or die” contingent that helmet use shouldn’t be legislated.

  4. Last paragraph makes sense to me. It’s essentially saying that helmets are NOT the cause of fatalities.

    My gut feeling (and I’m treading lightly here, as I’m stereotyping without trying to be racist) is that a lot of these numbers are a product of fashion. While a lot of white riders (especially those sans helmet) tend to ride pokey cruisers, many black riders have a love for slammed and stretched hyperbikes. Considering they often have more than triple the horsepower and less weight, but the same handling issues after customization, these numbers start to make sense…

  5. The last paragraph needs work ….. What if the African-American rider wore a white finish full face helmet??? Or what if the Caucasian one grew full face beard???

    Kind of weird conclusions, aren’t they?

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