Motorcycles safer than ATVs



Don’t rely on hay bales to save you on an ATV.

During this year’s annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, trauma surgeons and public health researchers revealed that ATV riders are 50 percent more likely to succumb to crash-related injuries or need aggressive trauma following a crash than motorcyclists, even if the severity of the injuries was similar.

The U.S. study gathered data on more than 58,000 accidents between 2002 and 2006. Of those, 13,749 were off-road motorcycle accidents and 44,509 were off-road ATV accidents.

Even though 60 percent of the motorcyclists in the study wore helmets and only 30 percent of the ATV riders did, the study found that even among the helmet wearers ATV riders fared worse than motorcyclists. The study doesn’t say, however what percentage of riders wore non-approved headgear or riding gear.

Researchers are at a loss to explain the cause of the higher mortality rate on ATVs. “We can’t tell why from this database,” said trauma surgeon Adil Haider, MD, MPH, FACS, assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, “We think there are much more energy transfers when an ATV turns over, but we can’t tell whether that is because of the stability of the vehicle or the weight of the vehicle as it rolls over on a rider.”


  1. It can be summed up in one word – Booze !!!

    I see way more riders drinking while I am out atv riding than I ever do on my motorcycle. On the road, there is always a chance you will encounter police, while offroad you never see them except when your fat tires touch any pavement.

  2. People ride motorbikes, and seem to drive quads. A skilled rider on a quad can do some amazing things but most people on quads are just along for the ride.

  3. Wes hit the nail on the head. The operators of ATV’s generally have less ability (with little reason to develop it) and less respect for the bulk of the machine. There’s always a fresh story about some dufus flipping one over backwards on a hill or rolling it over while trying to turn at speed. Both result in a crushed operator.
    Having ridden off road and living in the country “stupid” seems to be the default for far too many ATV owners/operators.

  4. I think there’s a lot more of a complacent attitude with ATV riding than on a motorbike. You feel more invincible as you have a significant amount of mass around you, but a motorbike always feels more exposed, therefore more due care is prcaticed and people will ride more within their limits. You can ride easily above your limitations on an ATV, and when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong!
    I have both a KLR650 Dualsport bike and a Prairie 360 ATV and enjoy riding both, and yes, I get a bit more crazy on the ATV!

  5. I think the real reason is that riders tend to fall OFF a motorcycle when in a crash, but getting off a Quad is not so easy.

  6. Just a stab in the dark, but could one of the underlying differences be in the level of fitness (or fatness) of off road motorcyclists vs. ATV’s?


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