THE MOTORCYCLE PROBLEM

After the Vietnam war died down, we noticed more and more that we were treating large numbers of injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. We decided to take one year and see what the impact would be on our military manpower. All the cases were collected for 1972 and the figures are only concerned with 1972 as far as hospital days and days lost from full duty. In the Armed Forces in 1971 there were 184 killed and 2,000+ sustained disabling injuries. In the United States Navy in 1971 there were 54 killed with 551 disabling injuries. In 1972 there were 71 killed with 733 disabling injuries. Ten percent of the Navy military personnel are motorcyclists and they accounted for 20.7 percent of privately-owned vehicle accidents. In Hawaii in 1972 there were 4 deaths from motorcycle accidents--3 civilians and 1 Navy. The motorcycle helmet has saved these patients for us and now we have a bumper crop of orthopedic patients. The helmet law was enacted in Hawaii in 1967 and implemented throughout 1968. Deaths from motorcycles in Hawaii in 1965 were 13, 1966 20, 1967 8, 1968 8, 1969 5, 1970 6 and 1971 there were 6 and 1972 there were the four that I have already mentioned. The registration of motorcycles went down during the same period that the deaths went down because at the time the helment law was enacted, a law was enacted requiring a special license for motorcyclists. Registraions in 1965 were 12,016; 1967 10,558; 1969 8,579 and in 1972 10,321. We have not reached the registration mark of 1965 but we are gaining on it rapidly. Disabling injuries decreased along with the registrations but not at the same rate and are now arising rapidly. In 2965 there were 460 non-fatal injuries, 1966 583, 1969 it dropped down to 305 and in 1971 it went back up to 387. The data for 1972 is not available. We do know, however, that within the United States the number of motorcycles registered increased 449 percent from 1960 to 1971. To get down to our study here, the Orthopedic Service at Tripler in 1972 had 45 Navy patients accounting for 3,445 hospitals days and 2,241 light duty days. There were 19 Marine patients, 986 hospital days, 1228 light duty days and the Air Force only had 8 patients with 501 hospital days, 463 light duty days. This was a grand total of 93 patients with 5,740 hospital days and 4,484 days of light duty which accounted for 11,224 mandays lost from full duty. The average hospital days per patient was 58, the average light duty days per patient 59. Four patients were medically retired, four patients received permanent profiles. These men accounted for 139 fractures, 10 major dislocations, 19 major abrasions, 15 major lacerations, 1 man lost his leg and 1 man was rendered quadriplegic. There were 80 lower extremity fractures of which the tibia was the leader with 27. There were 20 metatarsals and 12 femurs. Forty-two percent of these accidents involved another vehicle, that is a car or truck. This is compared with 58 percent in Kentucky and 82 percent in Illinois. One of the major problems with motorcycles is that they seemed to be fair game for anyone with an automobile or truck. One of our men was even hit by a police car and although he is back to duty, he is very limited in what he can do because of his severe foot injury.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Proceedings of the 19th Conference of the American Association for Automotive Medicine.
  • Corporate Authors:

    American Association for Automotive Medicine

    801 Green Bay Road
    Lake Bluff, IL  United States  60044
  • Authors:
    • Becker, Q H
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Pagination: 2 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00132000
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Highway Safety Research Institute
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 5 1976 12:00AM