Common sense might tell you that you run a greater risk of suffering a serious head injury when you are the person driving a motorcycle, as opposed to riding on the back of it. However, research suggests otherwise.
According to Reuters, your risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle crash is higher as a passenger than a driver. This holds true regardless of whether you are wearing a helmet. How often do motorcycle passengers suffer TBIs in comparison to the people driving the bikes, and why is it that your risk of a head injury is higher as a motorcycle passenger?
A study involving 86,000 motorcycle riders and passengers showed that both groups were most likely to suffer head injuries, as opposed to other types of injuries, in bike crashes. However, motorcycle passengers experienced TBIs in 40% of bike crashes, whereas drivers experienced them in 36% of instances.
The study showed that helmet use helps prevent head injuries, but helmeted passengers still suffer TBIs in about 36% of motorcycle crashes. In comparison, helmeted motorcycle drivers suffered TBIs in 31% of bike crashes.
When you ride behind someone else on a motorcycle, you generally have little to hold on to other than the person who is steering the bike. The person driving has the handlebars to grip, making it easier for the driver to stay on the bike during a crash.
When you ride on the back of a motorcycle, you also lack some of the protections motorcycle drivers have, such as the windshield, which might otherwise help break your fall.