You may assume that young hot-shot riders are most likely to be injured in motorcycle accidents, but this turns out not to be the case. Even though they tend to be more experienced and cautious riders, it’s the over-60 set who are being treated in emergency departments for serious injuries at high rates. In fact, a recent study by Brown University School of Medicine found that senior bikers are three times more likely to be injured than their younger counterparts.
Why the Increase?
One explanation for the higher numbers of injured older riders is that there are more older riders on the road than ever before. According to a survey conducted by the American Motorcycle Association, the average age of its members has increased from 40 to 48 since 2001, with one in four riders being over the age of 50. In 1990, this number was one in ten.
As the biking population ages, numbers of injuries are bound to go up as well. According to the Brown University study, riders in the 40-59 age group were twice as likely as younger riders to require hospital admission following a crash and 66 percent more likely to have a serious injury. Even worse, bikers over the age of 60 were three times more likely to be admitted by a hospital and 250 percent more likely to suffer a serious injury.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) cites fatality data that also supports the aging biker trend. According to the IIHS, while only 3 percent of all riders killed in crashes in 1982 were over the age of 50, 36 percent of riders who suffered fatal injuries in 2014 were 50 or older. Likewise, 80 percent of riders killed in 1975 were 30 or younger, while only 30 percent of riders killed in 2014 were under the age of 30.
Older Bikers Have More to Lose
While the death of a motorcyclist of any age is a tragedy, the cost associated with the death of an older rider is often much higher than that of a younger rider. Riders over the age of 50 often have much more to lose than young riders. For example, older riders often have:
- Significant assets, such as real estate holdings, savings accounts, and retirement plans.
- Dependents, such as spouses, children, and grandchildren who rely on the rider’s support.
- Higher average incomes, so that the cost of replacing his or her earnings is much higher.
When an older rider is seriously injured or killed in a crash by a negligent driver, he and his dependents will need a sizable settlement to cover his losses. The amount needed to compensate the rider or his dependents may be much greater than what the insurance policy of the at-fault driver covers. He or his family will need the advice of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in order to make a maximum recovery.
Why Are Older Bikers at Risk?
It turns out that it’s not so much the riding skill or habits of the older riders that are leading to more injuries, but the fact that they are more prone to injury than younger riders. While fractures and dislocations were suffered across all age groups, riders over the age of 50 were more likely to suffer from the following:
- Injuries around the chest and rib cage
- Internal organ damage
- Brain injury
- Complications from underlying disease, such as heart disease and diabetes
As this study only looked at emergency room data for surviving accident victims, it did not analyze fatality data for the age groups, but did note that the kinds of injuries older riders were typically treated for were more often fatal than the more minor injuries suffered by younger riders.
What Can Older Riders Do to Protect Themselves?
Whether you have been riding for 30 years, are new to the sport, or are getting reacquainted with a hobby from your youth, experts recommend that you take regular training classes to make sure your skills are where they should be as you get older. You may have to accommodate for age-related conditions such as weaker vision, loss of strength, balance problems, and hearing impairment. Some safety reminders for riders over 50 include the following:
- Always wear a helmet. Even though there is no helmet law for adults in Missouri or Kansas, you should always wear one when riding your motorcycle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets reduce the risk of head injury in riders who crash by 69 percent and the risk of death by 37 percent.
- Wear additional protective gear. Jackets, gloves, boots, and long pants all provide additional protection for riders who crash. Given the increased risk of injuries to the chest for older riders, it is especially important for them to wear a protective jacket and, ideally, a chest protector.
- Take a safety class. Even veteran riders need refresher courses periodically, especially as they age and their health changes. Check every year that you are still able to manage the weight of your bike and consider changing models when it gets too difficult.
Have You Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also order your FREE copy of our book, "KC Biker Bible."