Motorcycles cause ten per cent of all motor vehicle deaths in Ontario and cost the health care system six times the amount of car crashes
Motorcycles now account for approximately 10 per cent of all motor vehicle deaths despite making up only two per cent of the vehicles on Ontario roads, according to a new study from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
In the study, published today in CMAJ, the researchers show that while car safety has improved with rates of severe injuries and deaths from car crashes decreasing significantly over the last 10 years, injuries from motorcycle crashes have remained stable or even gotten worse.
“The main results of our study were that each motorcycle in Ontario causes 10 times the severe injuries, five times the deaths, and six times the medical costs of each automobile,” says Daniel Pincus, author of the study, PhD candidate working with ICES data, and orthopaedic resident physician at Sunnybrook Hospital. “Since the average motorcycle travels one fifth the amount of the average car, multiply these numbers by five to estimate injuries, deaths and costs per kilometer travelled.”
The researchers add that of the nearly 500 motor vehicle deaths in 2013 on Ontario roads, motorcycles accounted for 50 of those deaths.
“We know that the additional risk associated with driving a motorcycle has not translated into improvements in motorcycle safety. So we hope that estimating the medical costs of care for motorcycle crashes may provide an additional incentive to improve safety,” adds Pincus.
Before this study, there were no reliable estimates of medical costs from motorcycle crashes on a large scale because prior calculations were from single hospitals.
Researchers looked at data on adults who presented to hospital for injuries from either a motorcycle or car crash between 2007 and 2013 in Ontario. During the study period, 26,831 people were injured in motorcycle crashes and 281,826 injured in car crashes. People experiencing motorcycle injuries were younger and more likely to be male compared with those injured in car crashes. People with injuries from motorcycle crashes were also much more likely to be hospitalized and to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) compared with car crash victims.
Some limitations of the study include the inability to capture health care costs for outpatient rehabilitation for people with brain injury and other longer-term health needs. In addition, health care spending by insurance companies and individuals or indirect costs such as missed work days could not be captured, so the authors suggest that the costs in the study may be underestimated.
The researchers included mopeds, motor scooters and motorized bicycles in the definition of ‘motorcycles’ as per the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
“Direct medical costs of motorcycle crashes in Ontario,” was published today in CMAJ.
Author block: Pincus D, Wasserstein D, Nathens A, Bai Y, Redelmeier DA, Wodchis W.
The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care for the 1.2 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada’s premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically-ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. The Hospital also has a unique and national leading program for the care of Canada’s war veterans. For more information about how Sunnybrook is inventing the future of health care please visit us online at www.sunnybrook.ca
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