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Could your race determine your chances of death on a motorcycle?

Race only goes skin-deep but no racial category is immune from being treated unfairly. In our society, racial minorities face such discrimination most frequently on the job, on the street and elsewhere in their lives. But one startling statistic from a Johns Hopkins University study shows another shocking disparity: African-American motorcyclists have a higher chance of dying in a crash than their Caucasian counterparts.

3 African-American motorcyclists die for every 2 Caucasian motorcyclists

The Johns Hopkins researchers, who published the study in the American Journal of Surgery in 2010, said that for every two Caucasian bikers who die in a crash, three African American bikers die in a crash. The research also showed that wearing a motorcycle helmet doesn't help African-Americans avoid death while riding a motorcycle in the same way that it helps Caucasians.

The research illuminated the following:

  • African-American motorcyclists show a 50 percent higher likelihood of death even though they're more likely to don motorcycle helmets.
  • When comparing motorcycle accidents that involved un-helmeted Caucasian bikers to helmeted African-American bikers, the African Americans were still more likely to die.
  • African-American bikers who were not wearing helmets had the highest motorcycle death rate out of all the categories they analyzed.
  • The senior author of the study concluded that helmet laws don't help all races equally. "Helmet for helmet, African-Americans have more lethal injuries," he said.

Researchers ruled out the possibility that their numbers were skewed because of a disparity in the severity of crashes.

Why are more African-Americans dying in crashes?

Considering that African-American bikers are dying (1) even though they are wearing more helmets than Caucasian bikers and (2) even when the severity of their crashes are on par with their Caucasian counterparts, we're left to ask why this disparity exists.

The authors of the Johns Hopkins study theorize that the higher mortality rate of African-American motorcyclists could relate to African-American bikers' lack of access to high-quality medical care and lack of medical insurance. The researchers theorized that the skewed statistics could be the result of Caucasians having better access to high-quality health care, but they said that more research was required to answer this question definitively.

Get the medical care you need and deserve no matter what race you are

The results of this study should serve as a reminder to all races about how important it is to seek the highest quality medical care after a motor vehicle accident. No matter who you are, if you're riding a motorcycle, get the best medical insurance you can afford. Also, if you were involved in a crash caused by another party's negligence, you might want to investigate whether you can hold the other party financially responsible to pay for the medical care you require.

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