Boomers have long enjoyed the joys of motorcycling, but a new study suggests they can also be exposed to a world of hurt when it comes to two-wheeled transportation.
According to a University of Rochester Medical Center study (entitled "The Aging Road Warrior"), riders above the age of 40 suffer greater injury severity, longer hospital or intensive care unit stays, and higher mortality rates; based on the severity of the original injury, riders over 40 are also 1.5 to 2 times more likely to die from their injuries. During the duration of the study, the proportion of injured riders above 40 increased from 28 percent to nearly 50 percent. 50 to 59 year-olds were the fastest growing group to sustain injuries.
The study-- which tracked over 61,000 motorcyclists between 1996 and 2005-- notes that the average age of motorcyclists steadily rose during that period, but that older riders sustained a significantly higher proportion of severe chest and head injuries, while injury patterns (predominantly extremity fractures) remained stable. Incidentally, older and younger riders shared helmet and alcohol usage patterns in common; roughly 73 percent of both groups tended to wear helmets, while alcohol usage played a part in about one third of accidents.
Boomers-- not to mention enthusiasts of all ages-- owe it to themselves to brush up on their skills by taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, some of which are geared specifically towards experienced riders. But these findings also suggest it might be worthwhile for the MSF to pursue classes specifically geared towards older riders, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Mark Gestring, who co-authored the study: "We are looking at the development of prevention programs targeting motorcycle safety for older individuals, possibly in partnership with local motorcycle clubs and other interested groups."
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Photo © Kevin Jordan; Click to enlarge