By Brad Kruger –
The sport of motocross racing is extremely dangerous and the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) needs to set a new ruling about wearing proper safety gear in professional motocross and supercrosss racing because of the rise in serious injuries that have occurred from extreme competition and challenging race tracks.
For years motocross racers, fans, teams, and others involved in the sport have known the risks and injuries that a racer can sustain in the sport. But over the last 10 years the rise in serious injuries are devastating. Top racers around the world have sustained career-ending injuries. Riders like Ernesto Fonseca, Doug Henry, and Broc Hepler are just a few that have suffered injuries over the last few years that have ended their careers. Broken backs, necks, and serious head injuries are the main injuries that are ending careers. With the help of proper helmets and neck braces, riders can reduce their chance of having one of these injuries. However, the AMA currently does not force riders to wear neck braces. They must wear a helmet, but the current safety standards of the helmets are too low.
The AMA needs to force professional racers to wear some form of neck brace and better quality helmets. Many riders have started wearing neck braces since the Leatt Brace came onto the scene a few years back, and since then many other protective gear companies have started making neck braces as well. A neck brace is not something a professional racer is forced to wear but if it were, it would reduce the number of back and neck injuries.
In early 2006, professional racer Ernesto Fonseca suffered a practice crash that ended his career. He broke several bones in his back and left him paralyzed from the waist down. At this time nobody wore neck braces. Over the next few years the neck braces were developed and many racers started to wear them after seeing what happened to their fellow racers and wanted to avoid their chances of this injury.
While neck braces don’t 100 percent protect riders from all injuries, they help tremendously. There have been several incidents where a racer has broken their collarbone while wearing a neck brace but said, if I wasn’t wearing this neck brace, I would have gotten hurt a lot more. A broken collarbone is better than a broken neck or back.
According to Leatt-Brace.com, between 2001-05 in 142 injuries were reported from professional motocross and supercross racing, and 7 percent were vertebral injuries. With the help of Leatt Brace’s and other brand neck braces this number of injuries can be lowered.
For the safety of younger and amateur motocross racer the professional’s should be forced to wear neck braces because it will help show younger kids that they need to protect themselves properly when riding and racing to avoid serious injury.
Proper helmets should also be enforced among professional racers. Although many do wear high quality helmets, there are also many who do not. Part of the reason some wear somewhat unsafe helmets is because a rider’s sponsor wants them to promote all their products including their less protective helmets. This is not a smart thing to do for sponsors or riders. There is no excuse for not wearing a safe helmet, your head is the most important thing to keep safe and not wearing a proper helmet raises the risk of having a head injury.
In 2008, Wyatt Barto, a young rider from Pennsylvania lost his life while practicing in North Carolina. Since the accident his parents have started Foundation 529 to help provide proper helmets and neck braces to kids under the age of 18 who cannot afford them. Since they started the foundation they have donated tons of helmets and neck braces. They also have had the support of professional racers who do realize that safety in racing is a huge concern by donating autographed gear, t-shirts, hats, and more to auction off to raise money for the Foundation.
More professionals and AMA officials need to realize that safety should be their number one concern. There needs to be a change to make riders wear the proper protective gear. Is winning a race or doing a big triple really worth a good chance of crashing and ending your life or career?