If you ask the average person whether skateboarding or longboarding is safer, most will answer “longboarding” or “what is a longboard?” Of course, for those who aren’t initiated, longboards are a specific type of skateboard designed to be, you guessed it, longer and supposedly easier to ride. They are differentiated mostly by the size of the board, but longboarders also use their board to “cruise” or simply go from place to place, while skateboards are often associated with tricks and skate parks.
It seems natural then to assume that longboards are the safer option. Riding from place to place seems inherently safer than attempting high flying tricks or spins on a smaller board. But, the short board may actually be safer, at least in some aspects.
LiveScience reports that a new study from researchers at a Brigham Young University found that longboarding may put skaters at a higher risk for severe head injuries than the more traditional skateboard.
The researchers evaluated 824 people from a Utah trauma center with an average age of 19 who were treated for injuries relating to skating between 2006 and 2011. More than half, or 57.5 percent, were injured from longboarding,and the injuries they suffered tended to be more severe. Longboarders were especially at a higher risk of head fracture, TBI, and bleeding within the skull (intracranial hemorrhage).
So what makes longboarding more dangerous than the almost reckless trick sport that is skateboarding? Much can be contributed to environment. While skateboarders often practice in skate parks or relatively open spaces like parking lots, longboarders prefer the open road.
Skating in the road presents a multitude of more dangerous obstacles such as curbs, moving cars, and sign posts. They also tend to attempt stunts such as weaving between obstacles or riding downhill, attempting to reach the fastest speeds. To make it all worse, longboarders are much less likely to wear a helmet.
It is important for skaters to realize the risk that skating in any form presents, and take the proper safety precautions for their risky sports. While we can’t make young skaters stop hopping on fast moving boards, we can ask they recognize the risk and put on a helmet at the very least. Longboarding across a college campus may be less dangerous than shooting down a big hill, but both situations present many opportunities for brain injury which could be avoided with small safety steps.