True Confessions of a Crash Test Dummy – 13 Years After the Accident

Just nine days before the 13th anniversary of my accident, I crashed my own motorcycle at 40mph on the racetrack. What a difference being truly prepared can make!

I Survived A Horrific Accident Without Proper Protection

Thirteen years ago, half of my skin was ripped off in a motorcycle accident. I was a 20-year-old passenger, and the only piece of gear I was wearing (a full face helmet) happened to save my life.

After tumbling 522 feet down the highway in nothing more than jeans and a sweatshirt, I laid on the ground with third-degree road rash on 50% of my body (warning: image below is graphic) for 45 minutes waiting for emergency crews. While slowly bleeding out, I imagined what people would be saying about me at my funeral. I talked to whoever is “in charge” and accepted my fate. At first I was scared, but then I just wanted to die.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
A gruesome photo of Brittany’s road rash, damaged knee caps, dislocated toe, missing toenails, and half of her left breast removed after her first skin graft surgery.

I spent two months in the hospital and had nine surgeries. I developed a life-threatening blood clot and eleven different types of infection as a direct result of my injuries. My parents visited me every day – their lives put on hold. I begged them on a regular basis to “make it stop” and screamed in pain during my daily dressing changes, which drove my father out the hospital room on several occasions.

I became dependant on my pain medication (there were at least 14 in my system throughout my stay) and had violent mood swings with my doctors and family as a result. A complete stranger had to help me shower while I sat in a chair made of PVC pipe. After all the surgeries, I had to learn to brush my hair, sit up in bed, and walk again.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Physical therapy is grueling, just being vertical was a challenge.
Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany learning to sit up and walk again.

There were more consequences that would take longer for me to realize. Because of my injuries, I lost a military career path. I lost my favorite sport. I lost my youthful athletic body. I lost all of my hair. I lost my self-confidence. I lost my ability to bear children. I lost my clear and focused mind in exchange for PTSD and anxiety. I lost all these things at the age of 20.

For a long time, it felt like I had lost everything. People ask me how long it took to recover. Sadly, I fear the true answer is forever because I haven’t fully recovered, and it’s been 13 years.  I am still suffering from the physical injuries and ongoing mental effects of skinning myself alive. Every single day my life is affected by the outcome of that ride without gear.

There’s a lot more detail to the story. You can read my account of the entire first year after the crash, learn more about the consequences 10 years down the road, or take a look at the emotional struggle 12 years later.

You might think you understand. Very few actually do, and they are the ones who have lived through similar. Ask them to tell their story, and if you have the chance… listen.

Another Crash… In Full Gear

This September, just nine days before the 13th anniversary of my accident, I crashed my own motorcycle at 40 mph on the racetrack.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences Racing
Brittany, just before racing.

Of course, I was all the gear this time (it’s a requirement), and in fact, I was wearing full race-level apparel. What does that mean?

  1. ECE-R 22-05 certified full-face helmet.
  2. One-piece custom cowhide racing leathers.
  3. CE Level 1 D3O impact protectors in the shoulders, elbows, back, hips and knees.
  4. Armored road racing boots.
  5. Cowhide and kangaroo gauntlet-length gloves with floating knuckle armor.

After a short slide and a few tumbles, I got up and walked to the edge of the track without assistance. Once the track was clear, I helped a corner worker pick up my bike (her name is Breezy). I smiled when Breezy started right up. I would have ridden my banged-up Yamaha R6 off the track if it wasn’t against the rules. So instead, I jumped in the crash truck, which brought me and my bike back to the pits.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences Racing Race
Breezy had all the road rash this time around – that could have been Brittany’s skin AGAIN.

My boyfriend and parents were there, waiting and so worried. I immediately hugged them all and told them I was just fine. I drank some water and then helped fix my bike enough to pass tech inspection. I rode an hour later. I raced twice more that day, even after crashing, while the people who love me the most in this world watched and cheered from the stands.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany with her boyfriend, David, after the crash – All smiles!
Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany with her parents less than 1 hour after hitting the ground at the race track.

The Real Difference Protection Makes

Just one day after my crash, I was packing a suitcase and boarding an airplane. Two days later, I test-rode a new bike at a press launch in California for nearly seven hours. I never once questioned my ability to return to normal life. Once the small bruises on my elbow faded, it was like it never even happened.

Because I was wearing all my gear, I was protected from many types of injuries – from the catastrophic to the minuscule and everything in-between. I wasn’t just uninjured; I was able to continue riding, spend time with the people I love and return to work immediately after my crash because I was prepared and protected.

Each piece of gear I was wearing played a part, and together it made a difference in every aspect, including the immediate repercussions and any long-term effects. That’s the true impact of choosing ALL the gear, ALL the time.

Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
All The Gear Makes All The Difference – Just a few small bruises after a 40 mph tumble at the racetrack in 2018.
Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany spending “quality time” with her Mom and close family friends in 2005 after her big accident.
Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany’s Dad would brush her hair to keep her calm and take her mind off the agony of being strapped to a hospital bed after every surgery.
Brittany Morrow Extreme Roadrash Queen Bee Hospital Picture Motorcycle Woman Rider Crash Accident Injuries Consequences
Brittany meeting her childhood best friend’s future husband, Adam, for the first time while bed ridden between skin graft surgeries.

It Won’t Happen To Me!

Why do I still tell a 13-year-old story? Because I think it matters to every rider on the face of the planet. I will never forgive myself for what I put my family through in 2005 AND I will never forget how wonderful it felt to hug my parents and tell them I was okay immediately after my crash at the racetrack. Those two outcomes speak for themselves. You might think it will never happen to you, but there’s a large community of riders out there who have crashed, and who will admit that even the smallest injury isn’t worth the hassle if it could have been prevented simply by wearing gear.

The right protection can dramatically change your life and the lives of those you love and the people who depend on you.

When it comes to choosing what to wear when you ride – simply remember both of my stories and imagine yourself in my shoes.

Choose wisely, my friends.


The above story was originally published on WebBikeWorld.com on January 24, 2019.

My Life is Forever Changed – 12 Years After “Extreme Roadrash”

Twelve years ago, I was a passenger in a life-changing motorcycle accident. Photos of my injuries circulated the internet throughout the motorcycle community more times than anyone can count. There were aspects to my story that could not be photographed, like the healing process, personal change and emotional struggle. So, I wrote about my experience exactly a year after the crash. Little did I know that the article would go viral and forever dub me as “The Roadrash Queen.” That story continues to be used as a cautionary tale even today. However, what I wrote in 2006 is barely a fraction of my current reality.

The motorcycle accident that changed my life forever, 12 years later.

After years of painful recovery, I am left with physical scars you can see, and emotional damage a camera simply cannot capture. When I first wrote about my injuries a year after the crash, I was barely able to recount my experiences without feeling sick. I had no idea the extent of the battle that still lay ahead of me.

Regardless of the changes my body had already gone through, the true struggle was yet to come. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered I was no longer the person I once knew. I was different, unpredictable even to myself, and my body was more and more unfamiliar. I had to learn that, because of the crash, both life and limb would never be the same.

To this day, when interviewed, I am repeatedly asked about the crash and my accomplishments. “What happened? What have I done since the accident?” The question I am never asked, however, is, “HOW ARE YOU?” Rarely has anyone had the courage to dive deeply into the long-term effects on my psyche and spirit. Perhaps it’s because opening Pandora’s box to discover the true meaning of “lifelong consequences” is terrifying. Trust me, I get it. Instead, let’s embrace it. I believe the true power of my story exists in that place we are all afraid to explore.

The motorcycle accident that changed my life forever. Brittany out in the Ozarks.

For 10 years I have honed my skills as a safety instructor and public speaker to try to reach my fellow riders. Those who have attended my presentations get an in-depth account of my life since being skinned alive. I wish it was easy to explain what it’s like to establish a way of living that deals with daily pain; a state of being I’ve simply named my “new normal.”

I’m 32 and I have arthritis in more places than most people twice my age. There are things I can no longer do that I used to love and would still love if I hadn’t ripped my body apart. I struggle every day to accept my physical limitations and embrace the fact that I might never again be the extremely athletic girl I once was. In my mind I am still that person, but my body simply refuses to cooperate. For those who have never experienced long-term disability, there is no way to describe the feeling that you are trapped inside your own body. Beyond the physical pain, there is no instruction manual for how to handle those feelings. I’m still trying to figure it out.

The site of the motorcycle accident that changed my life forever.

There is a constant internal battle that rages inside me. I have lost so much of my memory surrounding the accident, and yet the horrible vision of the crash itself stays fresh in my mind. Sometimes when I least expect it, an irrational fear that never existed before, and that I cannot control, takes over. I have flashbacks that paralyze me, some for a few moments and others for several minutes. I used to find myself wondering if it would eventually go away. I am still reluctant to say “PTSD” out loud because I’m terrified of the implications and what it might mean for my future. One day I will have to confront it head on.

Before the accident, I was selfish and impulsive, focusing solely on the quickest and greatest rewards for myself. Now, I look back on the fear and despair I forced my parents through, and it hurts more than any physical pain I’ve endured. My choices that day took away my ability to have children. Much of my battle has been trying to accept that I did this to myself, although unintentionally. These thoughts cause strong feelings of shame and sorrow that I cannot shake. I like to think that I have no regrets, but that is a huge lie I tell myself to get by. Guilt is such a careful con artist and I’m still attempting to understand how much it has forever changed me.

The site of the motorcycle accident that changed my life forever. Brittany at the Grand Caynon.

The good news is that I now have more than just a survival story. Motorcycling is the greatest joy I have ever brought into my life. I share this part of my journey not so others will be afraid, but so my fellow riders might truly understand that the risk is real and safety should be taken seriously. I wake up everyday knowing that I can help motorcyclists not have to experience such things, and that truly keeps me going. I expose this part of my life as a way of connecting others to the reality of their choices both on and off the motorcycle. I urge my fellow riders to think about what matters most to them and make decisions based on those values. It is one of the reasons I am thrilled and grateful to be a guest editor and contributor with the WRN team.

Some days are harder than others, but I am always trying to learn more about my post-crash self. I have, hopefully, many years ahead of me, and I’m looking forward to more healing and a deeper understanding of this new normal. In the end, this is not the end for me. It is barely the beginning.

The story above was originally published on Women Riders Now.

To read my original article that went viral, you can click here.

About the Author
On September 25, 2005, Brittany was involved in a near-fatal accident as a passenger on a GSXR 750. Due to the overwhelming response to her story, Brittany has dedicated her life to the promotion of motorcycle safety, the use of safety apparel and the education of riders regarding these important aspects of the sport. Brittany is currently a professional motorcycle safety instructor, public speaker, writer, fundraiser and the National Director of the Women’s Sportbike Rally.