Blind Eye: Unabated rising number of motorcycle accidents

in Medicine/Orthopedics/Politics by

Last Monday, on my way to Davao City, I was again a witness to two road accidents  involving motorcycles. In one roadside, a lifeless body, lay on the ground after he and his motorcycle drove straight underneath a hauler truck.  In another road just several miles away, another motorcycle rammed into another motorcycle head on.  Broken glass and blood are splattered all over the road. Both drivers were rushed to a hospital.These gory sights shocked even surgeons like me.

Motorcycles accidents top the list of vehicular accidents in our country today. This is according to the Trauma Registry of the Philippine Orthopedic Association. In my orthopedic practice, approximately 60-75% of cases I’ve handled are related to motorcycle accidents.  In government health care institutions, more than half of the ward patients are victims of motorcycle accidents.

A "shredded" motorcycle and its driver.(Photo from this site http://www.vf750fd.com/motorbikes/crashes/accident/motocrash.jpg)
A “shredded” motorcycle and its driver.(Photo from this site http://www.vf750fd.com/motorbikes/crashes/accident/motocrash.jpg)

The type of injuries that motorcycle accidents bring are not only complex, but also unique. These injuries pose great challenge to our surgeons and require costly, repeated operations that exhaust both the patients and health care providers.  I bet if the health care community do a cost analysis of treating motorcycle injuries and the amount at which government spend to save this patients, we’d be all shocked.

Some observations I have regarding motorcycle accidents:

  1. Drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol. Illegal but rarely enforced.
  2. You only need Php 2,000.00 downpayment to get and drive your new motorcycle. The motorcycle industry is a huge market. Motorcycle makers really made acquiring motorcycles easy.
  3. Lukewarm or almost non existent enforcement of motorcycle laws and regulations.
  4. It’s very easy to get drivers license in the Philippines. Some say, in the Philippines, even a blind person can get a driver’s license.
  5. Teenagers sneakingly drive motorcycles and they drive like road kings.
  6. Some schools give parking spaces for students with motorcycles. I mean, do they check if these kids have driver’s license?
  7. Approximately half of motorcycle drivers nowadays have one violation or two in their motorcycle ” papers”. No or expired registration, etc..
  8. In the Philippines, because we are culturally magnanimous, we still shoulder medical expenses of motorcycle accident injuries  even if it was the motorcycle driver’s fault.
  9. Motorcycle injuries in my city dropped when there was a rise in motorcycle theft and deaths.
  10. Motorcycle injuries also dropped when the gasoline prices rose sky high.

There I’ve said it. Well, authorities can simply deny all these and more and say we’re all fine. Lack of budget and manpower seem a pretty good excuse I suppose. But the fact still remains, motorcycle related  accidents keeps on rising. Just watch your TV channels evening news and you’ll know what I’m talking!

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).