Aging Americans hitting the road on motorcycles, face higher risk of serious injuries, death

seniors-motorcycles-injury-riskAmerica’s aging population is riding more motorcycles than ever but those same riders are putting themselves at greater risk of severe injuries as a result.

According to a new study from researchers at Brown University, motorcycle riders over the age of 60 are more than twice as likely to suffer an injury that required emergency attention than younger riders. Los Angeles Times reports that more Americans over 60 are buying and riding motorcycles and the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle crashes among them has grown exponentially in the last decade.

Researchers found that motorcycle riders over 60 are 2-1/2 times more likely than riders in their 20s and 30s to visit an emergency room because of injuries they sustained in an accident with their bikes. The new study from Brown researchers appears in the most recent edition of Injury Prevention, a medical journal.

Conventional thinking would suggest that younger riders would be more reckless on their motorcycles but an older rider’s physiology may be working against them if they’re involved in a motorcycle accident. As people age, their bone density decreases and that combined with a slowed reaction time, worsening balance, and other factors of aging are likely contributing to the rise in serious injuries among older motorcycle riders. Comparatively, younger riders more often report bruises, abrasions, and other seemingly minor to moderate injuries from a motorcycle crash, suggesting they’re able to withstand the impacts of a crash better than an older rider.

The study finds that bone fractures are the most commonly reported of all injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash. Riders over 60 were more likely to suffer fractures to the upper trunk while younger riders most often reported fractures to their arms. Older riders were also more likely to suffer brain injuries during a motorcycle accident, as well as injuries to internal organs.

The report indicates that aging Americans are buying more motorcycles and hitting the road more than ever. Some have been riding for years while others have taken to the hobby in their retirement. One-in-four motorcycle riders in the U.S. today are over the age of 50. That figure has doubled since 1990. And as more riders hit the road, the number of serious injuries and fatalities has multiplied.

Accidents among riders over 65 are up 87 percent between 2001 and 2007, according to data from LA Times. In that same time, fatalities among older riders has risen a shocking 145 percent.

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