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Bike accident expert witness Dr. John Lloyd has served attorneys nationwide for 25+ years in biomechanics, human factors, helmet testing and motorcycle accident expert

Research Article “Biomechanics of Motorcycle Accidents” published in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics

Dr. John Lloyd is pleased to announce that his latest research on Motorcycle Accident Biomechanics was published in the Journal of Forensic Biomechanics on January 25th, 2016.

motorcycle accident biomechanics - Dr John Lloyd


Motorcycles are a luxury in the developed world, where they are used mostly for recreation. Whereas in developing countries, motorcycles are required for utilitarian purposes due to lower prices and greater fuel economy. It is estimated that in 2016 there will be more than 134 million motorcycles worldwide, 60-80% of which are in the Asia Pacific and Southern and Eastern Asia regions. In 2011 there were more than 8.2 million registered motorcycles in the United States, representing 3% of all US registered vehicles, with California, Florida and Texas leading the number of motorcycles per state.

In the United States motorcyclists travelled 18.5 billion miles in 2011, which represents only 0.6% of total vehicle miles travelled, yet motorcyclists accounted for 14% (4,612) of traffic fatalities and 4% (81,000) of all occupant injuries 2. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when compared with automobiles, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists’ risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than that of a car occupant

In a motorcycle accident, the motorcycle and rider typically become independent, each following their own path to final rest. Consequently, the biomechanical analysis of a motorcycle accident is complex. A biomechanical model to assess rider kinematics associated with motorcycle accidents is presented, which may be important to forensic scientists involved in the analysis of such events. This model can also be applied to other activities, including cycling, equestrian sports, skiing, skating, running, etc.

It is first important to understand the mechanisms by which a rider may be ejected from their motorcycle and how drag factors affect the motorcycle and rider independently. Next we determine rider trajectory, taking into consideration rider anthropometry and posture, results from which are used to derive impact velocity as a function of linear and angular components. A case study is presented, demonstrating how the presented model can be applied to a collision involving a single motorcycle.

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Motorcycle Accident Expert in Biomechanics and Human Factors

Motorcycle Accident Expert

Motorcycle collision analysis is a highly specialized discipline in which Dr. Lloyd is eminently qualified as a motorcycle accident expert. In addition to holding a PhD in Ergonomics (Human Factors), with a specialization in Biomechanics, John has more that 20 years and 200,000 miles of experience riding motorcycles. John-Lloyd-motorcycle-accident-expertDr. Lloyd has completed numerous advanced programs, including Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), Experienced Rider Course and Total Rider Tech Advanced training.

Motorcycle Helmets and Brain Injury

To consider whether a motorcycle helmet might reduce the risk of brain trauma in a motorcycle accident it is first important to understand the two primary mechanisms associated with traumatic brain injury – impact loading and impulse loading.

Impact loading involves a direct blow transmitted primarily through the center of mass of the head, resulting in extracranial focal injuries, such as contusions, lacerations and external hematomas, as well as skull fractures. Shock waves from blunt force trauma may also cause underlying focal brain injuries, such as cerebral contusions, subarachnoid hematomas and intracerebral hemorrhages. Whereas, impulse or inertial loading caused by sudden movement of the brain relative to the skull, produces cerebral concussion. Inertial loading at the surface of the brain can cause subdural hemorrhage due to bridging vein rupture, whereas if affecting the neural structures deeper within the brain can produce diffuse axonal injury (DAI).

Holbourn was the first to cite angular / rotational acceleration as an important mechanism in brain injury. Gennarelli, Thibault, and colleagues, in a series of studies using live primates and physical models investigated the role of rotational acceleration in brain injury. They concluded that angular acceleration contributes more than linear acceleration to brain injuries, including concussion, axonal injury, and subdural hematoma.

Motorcycle Helmet Testing

Traditional testing of motorcycle helmets focuses on reducing the effect of linear impact forces by dropping them from a given height onto an anvil and measuring the resultant peak linear acceleration. According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218, commonly known as the DOT helmet standard, the test involves dropping a motorcycle helmet onto a flat steel and hemispherical anvil at an impact velocity of 6.0 m/s (13.4mph).   In general, if peak linear acceleration is less than 400g, the helmet is considered acceptable. Current motorcycle helmet testing standards do not incorporate measures of angular acceleration and therefore do not address whether any helmets can provide adequate protection against catastrophic brain injuries, such as concussion, axonal injury and subdural hematoma.

In 1995, the European Commission Directorate General for Energy and Transport initiated a Cooperative Scientific and Technical Research (COST) program to investigate Motorcycle Safety Helmets. Several agencies from Finland, the United Kingdom, France and Germany participated in this study, which compiled and analyzed data from 4,700 motorcycle fatalities in Europe, each year. The COST report [i] documents that 75% of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve head injury. Linear forces were present in only 31% of fatal head injuries, while rotational forces were found to be the primary cause in over 60% of cases. Within the scope of this study experiments were performed using drop tests with accelerometers to measure linear and rotational accelerations of the brain and skull mass associated with different types of impacts. These tests confirmed rotational acceleration to be a primary cause of brain injury in helmeted motorcycle accidents.


  • Rotational forces acting on the brain are the underlying cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Motorcycle helmets, including those certified under DOT and SNELL standards are designed to mitigate forces associated with linear acceleration.
  • Motorcycle helmets are not currently certified under either DOT or SNELL standard against their ability to protect against the angular / rotational forces.
  •  Epidemiologic evidence from the COST-327 report  indicates that motorcycle helmets do not provide adequate protection against closed head and brain injuries

Human Factors of Motorcycle Accidents

Human factors in vehicle collisions include all factors related to drivers and other road users that may contribute to a collision. Examples include driver behavior, visual and auditory acuity, decision-making ability, and reaction speed. A 1985 report based on British and American crash data found driver error, intoxication and other human factors contribute wholly or partly to about 93% of crashes.

Motorcycle Inspection

Motorcycle accident analysis often requires involves a teardown and careful inspection of the machine to investigate for possible contributing factors. Our engineers have a combined 70 years experience with motorcycle mechanics.

John Lloyd motorcycle accident expert inspection

A thorough evaluation includes inspection of tires, brakes, suspension setup, electrical components as well as any aftermarket parts.

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