Longboarding is one of the hottest ways to get around these days. Calgarian longboarder Brandon Harrison has contributed in popularizing the new sport with his reported cross Canada trek on his longboard to raise awareness and money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation.
While this sport’s growing popularity is a fun way to stay active and is helping Canadians raise money for good causes, the health, safety and legal aspects of longboarding should be taken into consideration before taking part. This blogpost will explain what longboarding is and will outline some of the risks associated with the sport. We will also discuss how B.C. courts have dealt with motor vehicle accidents involving longboards or similar devices in the past.
What is Longboarding?
Longboarding is often grouped in with other forms of skateboarding, though it has some distinct characteristics. Some of these characteristics create a higher risk of injuries including serious injuries, such as brain trauma.
As the name implies, longboarding is unique in its physical characteristics. Typically longboards are 30 percent to 100 percent longer than regular skateboards. A typical skateboard ranges from 75 cm to 95 cm in length. Longboards by contrast are 105 cm to 200 cm in length. The longer length and corresponding greater width allow for higher speeds, carving and downhill speeding. On some terrains a longboarder may reach speeds of up to 50 km per hour or more.
These physical characteristics and functions also serve different purposes. While traditional skateboards are used in skate parks with fellow boarders and skaters typically wear helmets, longboards are often used on the road. Longboarders have a higher tendency to avoid helmets and will often share the road with pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
Examples of Common Longboarding Accidents
Longboarders operate on a variety of terrains with the most common being bicycle paths/lanes, pedestrian paths/sidewalks and the open road. Many of the collisions involve accidents due to uneven terrain. However, the most common accidents with longboarders are collisions with motor vehicles followed by collisions with bicyclists or pedestrians.
This is in contrast to skateboarding, which usually occurs in city parks, school yards or designated skate parks. Skateboarding accidents are more likely to involve issues with terrain, self-induced errors or collisions with fellow skateboarders. Rarely do traditional skateboard accidents involve motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians.
What are Common Longboarding Injuries?
According to studies on this subject reported on in Live Science, longboarders compared to skateboarders had a far greater exposure to serious health risks such as bleeding inside the skull also known as intracranial hemorrhage, traumatic brain injuries and head fractures.
Within the group of injured longboarders examined in the study, 8 percent had a skull fracture, 31 percent had a traumatic brain injury and 14 percent sustained an intracranial hemorrhage. Within the group of injured skateboarders, the statistics were much more positive with only 0.5 percent having sustained a head fracture and approximately 12 percent had a traumatic brain injury. Unlike the longboarders, of the injured skateboarders, none suffered from an intracranial hemorrhage.
The above statistics can be explained by the nature of the sports. Skateboarders often practice in various park spaces including skate parks, while longboarders are more often found on open roads. As mentioned above, the increases risks of collisions with motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.
What Laws and/or Remedies Apply in the Most Common Scenario?
While the Motor Vehicle Act of British Columbia does not specifically address longboarders or even skateboarders, the usual principles that apply to all pedestrians and motor vehicle operators would also likely apply to longboarders and skateboarders.
Those principles are largely that longboarders and skateboarders have a duty to be on the lookout for their safety as well as the safety of others. They should take steps to prevent or reduce the risk of injury. Just as passengers should wear a seatbelt, longboarders and skateboarders should wear helmets and or protective padding to reduce and limit the risk and severity of injury. Similarly, cyclists are required to have a light on the bicycle if they operate it within 30 minutes of sunset or sunrise. Longboarders should not operate a longboard close to sunset or sunrise without proper lighting and should wear bright coloured clothing and reflective gear.
What Should You Do?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a longboarding accident, you should contact a trusted brain injury lawyer at our Vancouver personal injury law firm. At Taylor & Blair LLP, we help injured accident victims and their families every day to get the compensation they deserve. Contact us at 604-737-6900 to arrange your free initial appointment. Let our Vancouver injury lawyers help you today.