Aging Motorcycle-Riding Population Faces Higher Risk of Serious Injuries, DeathFeb 7, 2013
Older motorcycle riders are more likely to end up in emergency rooms if they get injured on their bikes than riders half their age.
According to a report from Los Angeles Times on a study from researchers at Brown University, motorcycle riders over the age of 60 were 2-1/2-times more likely to require emergency room care if they’re injured in a motorcycle accident than riders in their 20s and 30s. The new study appears in the journal Injury Prevention.
For “middle-age” riders, they were 66 percent more likely to suffer serious injuries in a motorcycle accident than younger riders. Researchers suggest that while there is an inherent risk of serious injury for anyone topping a motorcycle, there are physical factors that make older riders more prone to those injuries than younger ones.
Brain injuries were more likely among older riders, the study found. Also, internal organ injuries were also more commonly reported among riders over 60 than they were among the younger generations. More often than older riders, younger riders suffer more abrasions, contusions, and other various minor injuries.
Bone fractures resulting from motorcycle accidents were common among all riders though older people were more likely to suffer fractures to their “upper trunk” while younger riders more often suffer broken arms.
Researchers say that a body’s physiology changes as a person ages and that is likely the cause of the more severe injuries among older motorcycle riders. An older person’s bone density is lower than a younger person. In addition, older riders have a different fat distribution, slower reaction time, and poorer balance, in general, than younger motorcyclists.
These dangers are becoming more apparent as older Americans trend toward riding motorcycles, perhaps as a change-of-pace in their life after retiring. One in four motorcycle riders today are over the age of 50 and that number has trended upward in recent years, Brown researchers found. The number of older motorcycle riders has doubled since 1990.
According to the LA Times report, this study adds to previous data on motorcycle injuries. In another study based on highway information data collected regionally, an 87 percent increase in serious injuries among older motorcycle riders between 2001 and 2007 was noted. During that same time, fatalities among older motorcycle riders rose an astounding 145 percent.
The researchers also suggested that serious injuries were more likely among older riders because they rider strong and large motorcycles but their risk of less serious injuries is lower because they are usually better equipped with safety devices and protect themselves from those injuries more than a younger rider.