You know you should put on your helmet and safety gear before you hit the streets of Las Vegas on your motorcycle. Once you have your gear on, you have reduced the risk of severe injury in a crash. However, based on statistics reported by RideApart.com, the data gathered do not necessarily indicate how much you have lowered your chances of an injury or fatality.
In one study, over 1 million emergency room visits were analyzed to determine the most common motorcycle-related injuries that did not result in death. Based on the results, you are most likely to suffer a non-fatal leg or foot injury. These were the cause of 30 percent of the ER visits. Head and neck injuries were responsible for 22 percent. Unfortunately, the study did not gather information about the safety gear that riders wore, or even how severe those injuries were--only that they were serious enough for medical attention, but did not cause death. Another study indicated that the lower leg bones were the most likely to be broken in a crash.
Yet another study included helmet use in its data analysis, and this does provide some solid evidence of the benefit your helmet provides. Your risk of a severe injury is much lower if you are wearing a helmet. Conversely, you are at high risk of sustaining more injuries that are less severe. This makes sense, since your helmet is likely to be absorbing enough impact to keep your head in one piece, but may not keep you from a concussion, road rash and broken bones. Another study verifies that fatal head injuries are more prevalent among unhelmeted riders.
Other research also provides incomplete conclusions, measuring crash fatalities that occurred in hospitals, but not at crash sites; recording the most severe injury, but not secondary or minor injuries; and recording helmet use, but not the quality of the headgear. Because racing motorcyclists consistently walk away from crashes occurring at speeds topping 200 mph, it may be safe to assume that wearing top-notch gear could make a difference for any rider.