Older Bikers Risk Greater Injuries in Crashes

Attention all you aging “Easy Riders” – according to a new study, motorcyclists 60 or older were three times more likely to end up in a hospital with severe injuries than were riders in their 20s and 30s.

Middle-aged riders, 40 to 59,  fared somewhat better but were still 66 percent more likely to sustain serious injury than were younger bikers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Brown University study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, looked at 1.5 million motorcycle crashes from 2001 to 2008 and found that while the number of injuries increased in all age groups, the greatest rate of increase occurred in those who were 60-plus. The trend is worrisome, the researchers wrote, because of the growing number of older adults riding motorcycles.

As noted in Medical News Today, the percentage of American bikers 50 or older has significantly increased, from one in 10 in 1990 to one in four in 2003. The most common age of people involved in a motorbike accident has also been going up, with injuries among riders who were 65 or older increasing 87 percent between 2001 and 2007, and fatalities in that age group jumping 145 percent.

The most common type of injury for all ages, the researchers found, were dislocations and fractures. But older and middle-aged adults were more likely to suffer internal-organ injuries, most commonly brain injuries, and upper-trunk fractures. “This is worrying, given that head and chest injuries are associated with the lowest rate of survival among bikers,” the researchers wrote.

One physician, not involved in the study, told the Los Angeles Times that the severity of injuries suffered by older riders may be due to the fact that they often ride bigger, faster bikes. The researchers did not have data on helmet use, the size of motorcycle involved or the specific circumstances of each crash.

To reduce the injury rate among older riders, the study authors had two suggestions: special courses or training for aging riders, and the use of protective chest gear.

Or maybe consider a different kind of bike.

Photo: WorldWideMotorcycles /flickr