Motorcycle Accidents Cause More Serious Injuries in Older Riders, Study Shows

The weather is getting significantly warmer in Washington State as of late, which means more and more residents will be rolling their motorcycles out of the garage and begin riding on a regular basis throughout the course of the summer. As we’ve covered in the past, motorcycle riders are naturally at a higher risk of injury in motorcycle accidents due to the fact that they are afforded less physical protection in the event of an accident. According to the results of a study that was recently published by the Los Angeles Times, a motorcyclist’s age also plays a factor in his or her risk of being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident.

Study Highlights Risk for Older Motorcyclists

The study was conducted by researchers at Brown University and published back in February. Overall, the study found that motorcycle riders who were at least 60 years old were approximately 2 ½ times more likely to require emergency room treatment for injuries from a motorcycle accident than riders who were in their 20s and 30s.

The middle-aged population of motorcyclists was better off than the 60-year-old group, but those riders were still 66 percent more likely than younger riders to end up hospitalized with serious injuries from a crash.

“There are always some risks involved with motorcycles,” says Tracy Jackson, a doctoral student of epidemiology at Brown University and the lead author of the study. “But there may be some physical factors that make older riders more prone to being in an accident, or more prone to injury.”

According to the study, bone fractures are the most common type of injuries that riders typically sustain in motorcycle accidents, regardless of the rider’s age. But Jackson’s study found that older riders were more likely to suffer fractures to the upper trunk – otherwise known as the torso – than younger riders. Jackson says that younger riders were more likely to sustain arm breaks than older riders.

More Motorcycle Accident Statistics

The study acknowledged that there are multiple factors at play when determining the reasoning behind these statistics. For one, declining bone strength is common in older people, which obviously is going to increase the chances of broken bones in a motorcycle accident. Delayed reaction time and declining vision are also natural occurrences that come with age and can impact a motorcyclist’s ability to avoid a collision.

In the United States, an estimated 25 percent of all motorcycle riders are age 50 or older, which highlights the significance of this particular study. In previous studies, researchers estimated that injuries among older riders – those identified as 60-65 years old and older – nearly doubled between 2001 and 2007, during which ridership of the older population increased by more than 100 percent.

Fatalities in older riders between 2001 and 2007 increased 145 percent, which is even more disturbing for motorcycle safety advocates. Overall, older riders had a hospitalization rate of approximately 35 percent while the younger population was closer to 15 percent.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers developed two suggestions for improving the safety of motorcyclists – particularly those who fall into the older age group. Refresher safety courses are always a good idea for those who have aged since the last time they took a course. Also increasing the amount of protective gear can make a big difference in terms of the severity of injuries for motorcycle riders.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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