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For baby boomer bikers: crashes comparatively frequent, severe

For baby boomer bikers: crashes comparatively frequent, severe

A new study indicates that older motorcycle riders, even experienced ones, who continue riding as they reach their 50s and 60s are building a track record like aging athletes. When they suffer injury, they tend to get seriously hurt and take longer to recover.

This is significant data, because more baby boomers are riding cycles and having motorcycle accidents in increasing numbers. The increase in older riders is noteworthy. In 1990, motorcyclists over age 50 accounted for 10 percent of all riders. By 2003, however, the over-50 riders increased to 25 percent of all motorcyclists.

Brown University researchers compiled emergency room reports from Ohio and around the nation, focusing on baby boomer riders. Their analysis indicates that almost 1.5 million total riders suffered injuries between 2001 and 2008. Not surprisingly, riders between age 20 and 39 endured the most injuries, over 900,000.

However, the injury rate for bike crashes increased most for riders over 60. Additionally, those older riders were more likely to suffer more serious injuries than their younger counterparts. The statistics paint a troubling picture.

The study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention, showed that hospitalization for baby boomer bike crashes was three times more likely than for riders in their 20s and 30s. Severe injuries occurred at a rate 2.5 times higher in the older group, as compared to younger riders. Boomer riders also suffered more internal injuries, specifically brain injuries, than younger motorcyclists.

Researchers speculate that older riders sustain more serious injuries as a result of their older bodies, possibly with delayed reaction times or deteriorating vision issues. It is imperative for older motorcycle riders to wear appropriate safety equipment, increase their awareness of the surrounding traffic and conditions, and pay close attention to their training and experience.

Source: USA TODAY, "Older motorcycle riders more likely to get badly hurt," Kim Painter, Feb. 6, 2013

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