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Older Motorcycle Drivers at Greater Risk of Serious Injury

If you are looking forward to the freedom of retirement to buy that motorcycle you've always wanted, there are a few more considerations now that you are more mature. Several studies on motorcycle crashes have found older motorcycle riders are at a greater risk of serious injury than their younger counterparts.

How much worse is a motorcycle accident for an older rider?

Two studies, one from 2007 and one from 2013, looked at trends in the frequency of severe injury in relation to the age of the motorcyclist.

The 2007 study reviewed documentation of all motorcycle accidents that happened in the state of Maryland between 1999 and 2001 and required rider hospitalization or resulted in death. The study looked at 865 total injury cases including 128 fatalities. Of these cases, two-thirds of the riders were under age 40, while the remainder are considered older riders.

Older riders were more susceptible to fractured ribs and upper chest or vertebral fractures when compared with younger riders who suffered more injury to the internal organs and spinal cord. Older motorcyclists had a slightly higher rate of survival, 87.8 percent compared to 84 in the under 40 group. However, older riders were more prone to dying in the hospital than younger riders. 

The study concludes that while young riders are more prone to fatal injuries, older riders seem to sustain a more serious injury and long-term complications.

The 2013 study looked at all reported motorcycle crashes nationwide from 2001 to 2008. The study reviewed accident data from 1.4 million injured motorcyclists, 531,785 of which were ages 40 and older. Over the 8-year period, the number of injuries per year increased annually with the greatest increase seen in riders 60 years old and older.

Riders 60 years old and older were three times more likely to require hospitalization than younger riders. Even riders between the ages of 60 and 40 were two times more likely to be hospitalized when compared to riders under 40. Both older and middle-aged adults were more prone to severe injury than the younger riders. This study, too, concluded that older riders are at a greater risk for serious injuries.

Why is the serious injury risk greater for older motorcycle riders?

There are many factors that play into the severity of a motorcycle accident. The 2007 study found that while the majority of both age groups wore a helmet, the older riders were more prone to riding a motorcycle with an engine larger than 1000cc.

Many natural processes of aging can also contribute to the severity of the injury. Older riders might have weaker bones than younger riders, causing more rib and vertebra fractures. Diminished vision and hearing, as well as slowing reflexes, can cause older riders to be involved in more serious crashes. Older riders were more prone to overturns (possibly from loss of control or slow reflexes), and more of the older rider accidents involved striking objects like embankments or animals.

How can older riders protect themselves?

Make sure you always follow motorcycle laws and general motorcycle safety tips. Knowing your limits and taking frequent breaks on long rides can keep you more alert and in better shape. Another factor, alcohol, was more prevalent in older riders, so avoid riding after drinking at all costs.

Some accidents are unavoidable. Regardless of your age, if you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, Max Meyers Law can help protect your rights to recovery. Max Meyers Law will gather the evidence necessary to investigate your accident and determine if another party was liable for your injuries.

If you are eligible to file an injury claim, we estimate your current medical expenses and wage losses while predicting future damages such as long-term disability and loss of enjoyment of life. In some cases, we bring in expert witnesses to testify on your behalf regarding your ability to return to work or how your injuries will impact your life.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Max Meyers Law by contacting us online or calling 425-242-5595. We handle every detail of your case so you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries and getting your life back on track. 

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.