What is Road Rash?

Anyone who has ever fallen from a bicycle or while running is aware of the sometimes agony of a road rash accident. As awful as falling and skinning one’s knee is, the injury can be far worse than simply removing a couple of layers of skin.

Road rash is the colloquial term used by cyclists, bikers, and anyone else who has ever been hurt on the road to describe the skin (and sometimes bone) injury that is the result of abrading the skin with road surfaces. This type of injury is most frequently, when it is serious, the result of serious cycling accidents and motorcycle accidents in general. The term or injury name has often been used to describe injuries from surfing, skateboarding, and inline skating.

The chances of road rash can be reduced significantly by wearing the proper and appropriate safety gear for whatever activity is involved. For motorcycles, this means wearing a jacket designed for motorcycle safety, a full face helmet, gloves, boots, and any other protective gear available.

Abrasion injuries are not uncommon in a variety of fields, including athletics. This type of injury, which is what road rash is, is generally caused by a person falling onto a hard surface, like a road. As the individual slides along on the ground, the friction between the various layers of skin and the road causes the top layers of skin to be rubbed off. This may create an ugly scrape that is raw and looks like hamburger meat but the majority of road rash injuries are actually minor abrasions that will heal in no time.

Like many injuries, the higher the speed of impact, the worse the injury will be. This is due in part to physics and the effects of force. The more speed with which a person is moving before falling, the longer it takes to stop the person once he or she hits the ground. The more time it takes, the more friction that is allowed to interact with the body. This in turn contributes to the severity of the abrasion on the skin.

Because motorcycles are frequently moving at advanced speeds, they pose the greatest risks, in terms of severity, from road rash. The severity seen in motorcycle road rash accidents is much greater than that seen in a runner falling or from a cyclist, regardless of how fast the cyclist is going.

While speed plays a role in the severity of motorcycle abrasions, the addition of a motorcycle holding a person’s body in contact with the road does not help either. Because of this, it is not uncommon for an abrasion injury in a motorcycle accident to scrape down to the bone, literally.