Motorcycle Accident Injury Risk Increased for Older Riders: Study

Older motorcycle riders may face a substantially greater risk of suffering an injury when involved in an accident, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published last month in the medical journal Injury Prevention, researchers from Brown University found that older bikers have triple the risk of serious injury when involved in a motorcycle accident, even though they are involved in fewer accidents than their younger counterparts.

The research analyzed cross-sectional data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury program on crashes in the U.S. from 2001 to 2008. Those riders over the age of 60 were three times as likely to be hospitalized for motorcycle crash injuries than those ages 20-39, and middle-aged riders from 40 to 59 were twice as likely to be hospitalized.

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Head and chest injuries topped the list of most common severe injuries suffered among older riders. Despite the injury rate, younger riders were involved in far more accidents, 921,229, compared to only 65,660 among the over 60 bikers.

The authors indicated that the reasons for the more severe injuries were likely related to the effects of aging, including decreased elasticity of the chest wall, weaker bones and fat distribution differences that could all contribute to an increased likelihood of injury from a motorcycle accident.

Older riders also have slower reaction times, worse vision and their balance may not be as good as younger riders, the report found.

Researchers concluded that the findings call for further focus on the risk of injury to older motorcycle riders.

A study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June indicatd that motorcycle accident deaths accounted for 14% of all road traffic accident deaths in 2010, despite the fact that motorcycles make up less than 1% of vehicle miles traveled that year. That report found that states that do not require motorcycle helmet use had five times the number of motorcycle accident deaths that states that had motorcycle helmet laws.

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