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Basem Wasef

Study: Older Riders More Likely to be Seriously Injured on Motorcycles

By February 8, 2013

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Old Rider

A new study based on emergency room statistics correlates age to an increase in motorcycle injuries, and though it's not the first time we've heard that message, the news reminds us that older riders face unique challenges when it comes to two-wheeled transport.

The findings reveal two basic trends: a rapid growth in older riders, and their higher likelihood of injury. Back in 1990, roughly 10 percent of riders were over the age of fifty; by 2003, that number climbed to approximately 25 percent... meanwhile, injury rates for older riders soared, as much as 145 percent between 2000 and 2006. Not surprisingly, the resulting injuries for older riders end up being more dramatic, with higher incidence of fractures, dislocations, and organ damage. Middle-aged riders are also twice as likely to be hospitalized following a wreck.

Researchers suggested the higher injury rates could be due to inevitable circumstances like declining vision and reaction time, as well as the fact that older riders tend to gravitate towards bigger and heavier bikes which are harder to handle, but is there something older riders do to reduce their risks? Personally, I'd suggest refreshing your skills by taking a course by a trained professional-- heck, I always recommend that for enthusiasts of all ages. It's also a good idea to evaluate whether or not your motorcycle's bulk is preventing you from being in total control of your machine, and whether it's time to trade in that big-bore bike for something more compact. Some riders with balance issues might also want to consider trikes, and if you're not entirely confident of your ability keep the shiny side up, there's absolutely no shame in hanging your helmet up to entirely remove your exposure risk.

Source: NY Times, Injury Prevention (thanks to Joel Gilbert for the tip!


Photo Getty Images

February 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm
(1) Sloan says:

I’m 42 and got passed by a 62 year old at the track last weekend. Talk about working on your skills!

February 9, 2013 at 12:47 am
(2) captainhurt says:

older get injured easier because of AGING tissues. Aging tissues are far more thin, brittle, and weak throughout. They also heal slowly and incompletely compared to when younger.

February 9, 2013 at 9:00 am
(3) Pete says:

It doesn’t hurt any more that it did when I was 20, but it sure hurts for a longer time.
Very telling statistic for the MC industry to take notice of as well…assuming they don’t already know. That screams loud & clear “young people are not buying new bikes”.
I appear to be part of that group…just turned 60, and my VTR is about to have it’s 10th birthday.

February 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm
(4) Steve says:

This is old data and misleading statistics. Rates are up because rider numbers are up. More older riders out on the road having fun. Next they will have the article about young riders having more accidents because of risky behavior. This is just lazy, sloppy journalism. Watch out for cagers, thats the real problem.

February 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm
(5) Ninja Kev says:

Some bozo hit me head-on when I was 22-years-old (always wear a helmet!) but now at age 51 if the same circumstances presented themselves I feel my riding experience might allow me to find an “escape route” that I didn’t see back then.

This study has a number of factors to consider: Generally speaking young people crash their bikes more often because they’re showing off whereas older riders are more cautious. As captainhurt points out older riders are more brittle than the youngsters – a young kid might “walk off” an injury that us old folks can’t do. Basing the study on just E.R. visits alone might not be that representative of the real world. Gotta go, it’s time for my oatmeal and Geritol.

February 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm
(6) Scottie says:

Staying in good shape has all kinds of benefits, including strength to toss around an 800 lb. bike.

February 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm
(7) CarswFins says:

The article should read: The number of riders over 50 was up 25% and during the same time period the number of accidents was up 14.5% (145% of 10%). That number is still too high, but come on guys. A little journalistic integrity never hurt.

I watched in horror as a “youngster” rear-ended a car that was traveling at 85 mph on the highway. The result was disastrous. I doubt many 50 year old’s are running that hot..

February 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm
(8) Mike Hannan says:

Over here a lot of the older riders are also new riders who buy their first bike (or first bike for 30 years) in their 50s. They often choose a heavy cruiser style bike with fat tyres, poor handling and a riding position that is less than optimal for control because they like the look. In my experience, there are as many dangerously inexperienced riders aged 50 as there are aged 25. It is the number of riding years and effectivness of training that matter, not the age of the rider.

I am a member of one club which pays 50% of rider ugrade courses for each member once each two years. From my observation it is the experienced and skilful riders who take advantage of this. The newchums seldom do.

Gold Coast – Queensland

February 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm
(9) Chuck says:

It hurt’s no matter how old you are. But many older riders are starting to ride later in life, second child hood or just living out that desire they had but couldn’t do when they were younger.
I’m 61 and been riding for 45 years, I was an MSF instructor when I was younger and can say that as we age our skills do deminish, I for one practice my riding skills often just to make sure I’m around for a long time. I see stupidty from riders of all ages young and older. I do agree with Steve that this is old data and misleading statistics.
I for one am happy to see older folks out riding, life is to short not to have fun!!!!

February 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm
(10) ryde4ever says:

Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of the older riders around here have no conception of safety gear or ATGATT. Whereas it seems like a lot of the younger sportbike crowd has caught on that quality gear looks cool and saves lives. ATGATT saves lives and prevents injuries, or lessens them.

February 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(11) Pete says:

ryde4ever says it well.
How often do you see some IDIOT in cut offs, flip-flops, and a t-shirt (maybe) with his girl friend on the back in the same or less clothes?
They should be wearing a big sign that says “Multiple skin grafts to be required…if I survive”

February 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm
(12) Barry says:

Funny thing, when you go to the international bike show that is going to a lot of the big cities, the majority of people you see there are the grey haired crowd. Men and women, many with patches of different clubs. At least that’s what I see in Cleveland.

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