Motorcycle riding through Utah offers a breathtaking experience, from the rugged beauty of the red rock deserts to the majestic mountain vistas. It is a spectacular setting for riders seeking adventure and scenic tranquility.

However, it also comes with certain risks, such as suffering a road rash injury in a crash. Between 2009 and 2018, 966 motorcyclists were injured in Utah, and 47 were killed. Motorcycle crashes were 13 times more deadly in the state than collisions involving other vehicles.

You can boost your safety while riding by understanding how road rash occurs and learning prevention strategies.

Let’s Define “Road Rash”

Road rash occurs when a motorcyclist’s skin scrapes across the pavement during an accident. This injury results in abrasions, which can vary from mild, superficial grazes to severe wounds that wear all layers of skin away down to the muscle and require surgical treatment.

The most vulnerable areas to road rash are those with little natural protection and a high likelihood of impacting the ground during a fall. These include the palms, elbows, knees, and shoulders, and exposed facial regions such as the chin and cheekbones.

If untreated, road rash can lead to serious complications, including infections, since the wounds can harbor bacteria. Other risks include nerve damage and reduced mobility from scar tissue. Skin grafts or reconstructive surgery may be necessary in severe cases to repair the damage.

What Causes It?

Road rash often occurs when riders are ejected from their bike and slide across the pavement during a motorcycle crash in one of the following situations:

  • Slippery conditions, including wet roads or loose gravel
  • Mechanical failures, such as brake malfunctions or tire blowouts
  • Negligent driving by other road users, like excessive speeding or reckless maneuvers that cause collisions or force motorcycle riders to swerve and crash
  • Poor road maintenance, like unmarked construction zones or large potholes
  • Rider inexperience, leading to poor reaction times and riding mistakes

However, road rash isn’t exclusive to motorcyclists. Cyclists, much like motorcyclists, can also experience road rash if they are involved in a collision or take a tumble after riding on cracked or potholed pavement, an often overlooked but hazardous urban obstacle.

How Can It Be Prevented?

To reduce the risk of road rash, there are several steps you can take to improve your safety and your motorcycle’s performance, including:

Wear Appropriate Protective Gear

Wearing appropriate safety gear can help you prevent road rash. The following equipment and riding apparel can minimize exposed skin, protecting you from injuries.

  • Helmets: By Utah law, anyone 21 or younger must wear a helmet, but riders of all ages should wear a DOT-approved helmet with a face shield for maximum protection.
  • Jackets and Pants: Opt for full-length protective clothing from materials like Kevlar or Cordura. These synthetic fibers are known for their superior strength and abrasion resistance, providing critical protection for your limbs in an accident. Thin denim jeans and cotton shirts don’t offer much protection.
  • Gloves: Wear gloves made from goatskin, which is highly durable and flexible. It also provides excellent grip, which is crucial for motorcycle handling.
  • Boots: Choose sturdy, over-the-ankle boots that shield your feet and ankles, ideally made from thick leather or reinforced synthetic materials for added protection. Avoid open-toed footwear when riding.

Practice Safe Riding Habits

Adopting safe riding habits can help you prevent a crash when exploring Utah’s cities and natural landmarks by motorcycle. Do the following to minimize your chances of an accident:

  • Maintain Safe Riding Speeds: Always ride within speed limits and adjust your speed according to road conditions, weather, and traffic.
  • Increase Visibility: Boost your visibility to other drivers by using proper signaling, maintaining optimal lane positioning, and wearing reflective or high-visibility clothing.
  • Avoid Sudden Maneuvers: Avoid aggressive riding behaviors such as sudden lane changes or quick turns, which can lead to loss of control.
  • Stay Alert to Road Conditions: Regularly scan the road for hazards like potholes, wet or slippery surfaces, and debris. Adjust your riding strategy accordingly.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Ensure there is sufficient space, ideally a little more than 3 seconds, between you and the vehicle in front. This will give you more time to react and maneuver safely in unexpected situations, like the vehicle ahead of you abruptly braking.

Keep Your Motorcycle in Top Condition

Regular maintenance of your motorcycle ensures it is safe and reliable to ride. Focus on these critical areas:

  • Tire Inspection and Inflation: Regularly check tires for wear and damage and maintain proper pressure to ensure good traction and reduce the risk of blowouts.
  • Brake Maintenance: Inspect brake pads and discs for wear and replace brake fluid as needed to maintain optimal braking performance.
  • Regular Motorcycle Checks: Perform routine inspections on lights, signals, and mechanical systems to ensure everything is operating correctly for optimal performance and safety.

What to Do if You’re in a Motorcycle Collision

If you’re thrown from your motorcycle in an accident, try to minimize the severity of road rash by rolling away from the bike. Tuck your arms and legs close to your body to protect your joints and limbs as you roll, and try to relax your muscles to absorb the impact more effectively. This can help distribute the force of the fall more evenly and reduce the area of skin exposed to scraping against the pavement.

Seek immediate medical attention to properly assess and treat your injuries. This will help prevent complications such as infections and nerve damage. Keep all medical records for your insurance claim, which can show the extent of your injuries and connect them to the crash.

Secure Your Ride and Your Rights

At Great West Injury Law, our Utah motorcycle accident attorneys want to help protect your health and legal rights as a motorcycle rider. If poor road design or a negligent driver causes you to crash and suffer road rash, we can help you get fair compensation to pay for your injuries.

Contact our law firm today for a free consultation. We can discuss your case, estimate your damages, and help you seek a settlement.