Whenever I attend a motorcycle accident, I initially focus on the immediate treatment that may be given to injuries and the transport to hospital by various means, be that by air or by land ambulance.
Occasionally, I’ll meet a patient some months down the line, after the event and I’m able to catch up on the recovery process thus far. It is also a good opportunity for the patient to ask us some questions about what we recalled from the accident scene also, and in many cases this helps the patient fill in some blanks in their recollection of events and in many cases it can help friends and family members come to terms with the accident also!
What many do not realise is how much of our future lives can be affected by an accident and how much it is affected either temporarily or permanently!
There is the obvious level of injury severity and how long it might take to recover from. Many would think that an injury may take a few weeks to recover from, but few realise that even relatively minor injuries can take weeks or even months to recover from…sometimes years and sometimes never!
I’m not talking about minor skin abrasions here, I’m talking about bone fractures, skin, tissue, ligament & nerve damage that may require multiple treatment and therapy processes that may or may not have 100% success rate!
Then there is the psychological and emotional affects on both the patient, family & friends and primary carers who will adopt the burden of care. Some patients may reasonably accept the circumstances of their injuries and some may have great difficulty in acknowledging their plight! Some have temporary reactions and some are long lasting and require years of therapy!
Then there are behavioural and personality changes of a patient post accident! This of course is not always the case, however this may be associated with a head injury during the accident. It becomes a ‘new life’ for the patient and it becomes a ‘new life’ for family members! This new personality is sometimes a cause a major stress and emotional distress…especially for close family members and loved ones who ‘do not recognise’ the person they once knew!
Then there are the legal ramifications, if any, of the accident and the knock on effect for the future. Every accident is rarely an ‘accident’ because at some point during the incident an error was made…either by the rider or the driver or external party.
Law enforcement will investigate the probable cause of the accident and will apportion culpability where appropriate which may lead to criminal and civil proceedings & prosecution. This may further attract civil legal proceedings from other parties…especially if there has been an injury or fatality!
The net result of this may be moderate to severe financial penalties, criminal records and custodial sentences and a permanent affect for future financial and social relationships.
Then there is the pure financial burden of the accident. The immediate cost of treatment & repairs or replacement and the future cost of potential increased insurance premiums, because insurance companies will keep a track of your history and will impose a risk loading for the subsequent years. Even if you have appropriate insurance on your vehicle and to cover other road users, the protection cover may not be enough to cover all of the costs of damage to yourself or your bike or other vehicles or property. This shortfall will then become your personal financial burden!
Then there is the future earnings impact and employment security! Depending on the nature of injuries, may make it impossible to perform tasks that you previously were capable of doing. Jobs and employment roles may be jeopardised because of this incapacity. No employment means no income, means no paying bills, means a dramatic change in lifestyle for yourself and family.
There are of course many job roles that do not require specific skills and capabilities, however the long recovery process may make returning to that role problematic. Depending where you live in the world there will be varying employment protection laws or none at all, which may mean that you employment will not be protected by your employer!
If you are self employed or run a business, then this may mean that you are no longer able to continue in that role. The temporary recovery time, even a relatively short time, may be all that is required to have a severe impact on the business and which may mean the business may no longer continue…which may have an affect on yourself, your family and those employed within the business, if appropriate!
When we have an accident, be that on a motorcycle or in a car, van or truck, we are in the process of travelling from point A to B for either social or business reasons. If we do not arrive at our destination, then that will have a financial knock on affect.
We may be carrying a particular load or specific part that has to get to a customer at a specific time. If it doesn’t arrive or is damaged in transit, then there will be a finical cost to either the shipper or customer…or both!
We may cause damage to the road surface or to road furniture that has to be repaired, therefore the local authorities will assume the cost of those repairs and that will be recouped in local taxation if possible.
Accidents create the need for an emergency services response, which may be paid for through national & local taxation or by private insurance funding.
Whenever there is an accident, especially on busy roads, there will be the inevitable queues of traffic, which further delays the rest of the local population in their daily lives…all of which has a knock on financial burden to the ‘economy’.
If we consider all aspects of financial costs to the economy related to road traffic accidents in general, then the figures are astounding. In the UK alone, the estimated costs currently are anywhere from £15 billion to £34 billion pounds and on a global scale the costs are in the region of many hundreds of billions of US$. In 2000 the global estimate was approx. US$518 billion, so up to 2014, we can assume a lot more and possibly even double that figure.
So on an individual basis, having an accident and especially a motorcycle accident is bad news because of the higher probability of moderate to severe injury regardless of the type of protection worn, but compounded when suitable protective equipment is not worn!
It is bad news in terms of injury, emotional stress, personal current and future finances, business and the economy as a whole…which we ultimately all need to do well.
Whatever you can do to avoid an accident is surely the best course of action. By raising your hazard awareness, by gaining as much knowledge and experience as possible, by modifying attitudes towards unnecessary risk taking and by improving your riding and hazard avoidance skills will help you, your friends and the next riding generation achieve this.
By avoiding the bad news, we as riders get to enjoy the good news…which is the pure joy and thrill of riding motorcycles. Just because we are taking precautions and managing risk, does not mean we can’t have fun when riding either solo, with a pillion or in a group.
Just taking a little extra care really does go a long way.