This is where it’s safe to crash

Dailies -



Areas shaded in purple on this map are within 45 minutes of the kind of advanced trauma centers you’re going to need if you come off a bike and sustain a serious mechanical injury. Areas in white? Well, your mom told you motorcycles were dangerous, right? Created by the American Trauma society, the idea is to raise awareness of just how sparse top-level emergency medical care in America really is.

That 45 minutes to one hour figure is the window in which doctors who treat serious, life-threatening injuries need to get to work on you in if they’re to stand a good chance of saving your life. Crush injuries, traumatic bleeding, severe burns, brain injuries, heart attacks and stuff like that require urgent care more sophisticated than first responders can deliver in ambulances or helicopters.

Click here for the interactive map.

As expected, most purple areas center around large population centers. Lose an arm in the northeast or near LA and you’ll probably be ok. Do the same in Appalachia or Utah and this map says you’re pretty much fucked.

This highlights an increasing stratification in care that is killing Americans in rural areas. According to Time, you’re more likely to die after being involved in a car crash in rural America than you are in a city. Doctors and care centers are going where the money is.

The interesting ramification for us motorcyclists is that many of the areas we travel to to play are outside the purple “safe” areas. Moab, the California and Arizona deserts, the north Georgia and eastern Tennessee mountains, upstate NY. These aren’t just destinations for rugged bikers bent on destruction, but playgrounds for wealthy hobbyists. The stratification of healthcare is a first world problem impacting people who typically enjoy excellent healthcare.

Writing in Time, Zachary Meisel, a professor of emergency medicine, suggests that the solution is a coordinated regional approach to healthcare directed at spreading trauma centers widely enough that an improved system of transporting those in need will enable them to reach those centers. Until then, this map enables risk takers like you and me to make informed decisions about where we travel to do what we do. Do you need to plan your next dirt bike trip somewhere purple? Doing so might save your life, but the tradeoff might be overcrowding and less impressive surroundings. Hopefully with more information you’re able to make a better choice.

  • John

    that’s some unsettling stuff right there…no reason that in 2011 we can’t have a well coordinated (national healthcare) system for trauma rescues and treatment…problem is that most of the time, the news focuses on the few dummies who go skiing in a closed-off avalanche zones as prime examples of resource waste….

    Just have to remember to bring our own gps, slints and helicopters along for now…

    • Steven

      sure there is. that reason is the republican party.

      • John

        obviously (should’ve seen that one coming)…were it not for their colossal fear of science since the beginning of time this wouldn’t have even been an issue…we could’ve jet-packed the f’outta there, regenerated new tissue & been back to showing off to impress hot girls in no time!

        • Steven

          but we’d have to have the tattoos redone on that abraided skin.

          PS: Jet packs? Hell for Nomex Magazine?

      • Dan

        So you are willing to build a business where there is no way you can make a profit? That’s not a republican issue, that’s plain stupid?
        You must live at home with mama.

        • damien

          That is exactly why healthcare should not be for-profit.

          • rohorn

            One more reason those white areas should be declared “wilderness”, where offroad riding would be banned. Costs nothing – panders to the tree hugger base – win/win, if you lean that way.

            Then again, it is brutally obvious that the post whore useful idiot hacks here value dependency over motorcycling.

  • Brant

    I’ll remember not to crash next time I head to the Ozarks.

  • Steven


    I’m surprised there’s a big gap near San Luis Obispo. It has two hospitals with big towers and helipads.

    • Wes Siler

      I think this is about specific trauma services, not just the presence of hospitals.

  • Denzel

    Adv riders beware!

  • Mark D

    Ah shit. At least a third my trip is in the white.

    Imma go practice making duct tape tourniquets.

    • Martin

      Don’t tourniquet anything you want to keep.

  • Myles

    ~50 miles of both I-85 and I-95 are both in the white in Southern Virginia/Northern North Carolina? Another weird thing about this area is the lack of any Trauma center at all, many of the white areas have a lower level center. This corridor just has a few hospitals.

    That’s weird, and also frustrating. There are always a shitload of cops.

  • Joe

    That’s one of the things I love about Vermont, no major cities but I’m still in the purple. Dartmouth-Hitchcock is just across the border in New Hampshire, about a 35 minute drive.

    • sean (the roommate)

      i thought vermont was just in monopoly…that’s a real place?

      • Joe


        Actually it’s a pretty awesome place to ride. We’re in the northern end of the Appalachian mountains(think dairy farms and ski resorts), plenty of winding mountain roads like Rt.100 and not much traffic as long as it’s not a touristy time of year like autumn(foliage season).

        Google “vermont pics” and you’ll see what I mean.

  • pplassm

    Isn’t that one of the reasons we ride? Just to escape the confines and structure of civilization?

    It used to be about the ADVENTURE, and this is part of it. You are on your own. You and your brain decide the risk and you ride accordingly. No one else is going to care about saving your ass. Don’t forget it!

    After 10 years of commuting with my wife, I am back to commuting on my bike alone everyday. It is amazingly energizing and stimulating. Every second of the 25 minutes each way comands my complete attention.

    My safety is MY responsibility. I ride to live. This applies to dirt and street.

    Be safe.

    • je

      [quote]I am back to commuting on my bike alone everyday. It is amazingly energizing and stimulating.[/quote]

      I commute via bike for that very reason.. Its good to know now that if a box with four wheels hits me in kansas city I might just make it.

      • Brammofan

        You’re a KC rider too? I thought it was just me and Jpenney. Ping me at

    • Steven

      cool. I’ll be sure to not call an ambulance if I see you on the side of the road, bleeding and broken. just don’t drag the rest of us down with you by voting for some dickweed who promises to never make anyone pay taxes for commie shit like “hospitals” and “filling potholes,” ya rugged cowboy!

      • Campisi

        THANK YOU.

      • 1


      • Joe

        One of my brothers ended up w/ plates and screws in his forearm, two broken ribs and a punctured lung, and another died after four days in the ICU from bike accidents that happened in the purple zones.

        If I ever wreck, I hope someone would haul my ass to the hospital damn quick!

      • BMW11GS

        Raising taxes for the top marginal tax bracket frankly isn’t a solution to increased revenue. When 50% of the tax base is not paying anything that’s the problem. Just sayin’ choncho.

        • Steven

          replace your talk radio imagination facts with real facts, then get back to us. in the meantime, stop voting for people whose platform is to refuse to tax anyone to provide commie shit like “roads” and “the coast guard.”

        • damien

          Go figure. BMW rider doesn’t want to raise taxes on the rich. haha.

          • Joe

            Hey, easy on the Beemer, it’s not the bikes fault that there’s a douche riding it.

    • Myles

      I think 10 years of commuting with your wife has (unsurprisingly) permanently damaged your brain.

      Yes, adventuring is awesome.

      But, people fixing you when you’re broken is also awesome. You get to continue adventuring.

  • dux

    Crashing is for sissies

  • Tony T.

    As long as hospitals remain for-profit institutions, the kind of coverage needed will never surface. There is no profit in having a staffed trauma center in BFE Utah or Idaho. OMG THINK OF THE WASTE

  • 1

    Don’t you guys have medic helicopters? Or is this 45 minutes away by trauma rescue helicopter.

    • Kirill

      It takes time for the helicopter to get to your broken self and then get you to the hospital. Once you add the time it takes to get the chopper in the air, get it landed, get you loaded, get it back in the air, get it landed again, get you offloaded and to the OR – doesn’t leave that much time for flyin in the 45-60 minute window. New England and the Rust Belt must be filled with trauma centers.

  • Ted

    I live in Maryland, we’re so well covered I might as well just stop wearing my gear. Breakin’ out the Sidi flip flops for me bishes.


  • the_doctor

    Ah, I cant afford those places in purple, anyhow.

    • nick2ny


  • rohorn

    This should have been titled “Where Mimbos Should Never Go”.

  • Mitchell

    Chuckwalla is out of range.

  • Keyrock

    Good luck finding qualified staff to run a 24/7 trauma center in the middle of nowhere. Small rural towns have a hard enough time just recruiting general practice physicians.

    • Steven

      have they considered paying for their med school tuitions in exchange for five years of service in their towns? lots of weird nebbishy guys will take the opportunity, with quirky results.

  • John
  • DoctorNine

    Actually, Appalachia (definitions vary of course) runs from northern Georgia up into Pennsylvania. So, if you look, quite a bit of it is covered by good trauma centers. I personally am more afraid of Montana/Idaho, because the terrain just begs for a bike, and there is no one out there to help you if you take a dirt dive.

  • pinkyracer

    what’s interesting is that the whole area around the crest is cool, but it’s not THAT much longer of a helicopter ride from the depths of California Valley to whatever trauma center serves Wrightwood. I’m just glad I’ve got Verizon now.