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Older motorcycle riders higher risk for crashes

The nation's motorcyclists are, by and large, getting older -- and that may be increasing the number of severe injuries and fatalities that are being seen when they're involved in accidents.

Research indicates that when riders are grouped by age, those in the oldest age bracket -- those 60 years and older -- had not only the most injuries but also the highest incidence of accidents. They were three times as likely to be admitted to a hospital after a crash as riders aged 20-39.

Riders in the next oldest category also fared more poorly than younger riders. Those in the age group from 40-59 were twice as likely to require hospitalization than the youngest riders.

There's a number of reasons that could be behind the increased injuries seen in older riders, but the most likely culprit is simply age. Older and middle age riders had more upper trunk injuries and fractures than younger riders, particularly around the chest and rib cage. It could be a combination of the fact that older riders are less flexible and have slower reaction times than younger riders, so they're unable to maneuver themselves in a way to lessen their injuries when they lay down their bikes.

Older riders are also likely to have other medical conditions that make them more prone to injuries and complications from injuries. For example, older riders are more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and other medical conditions that make it harder to heal from the effects of a crash. That could account for the increase in fatalities.

Another issue that older drivers may face is that they may simply be a bit rusty or inexperienced on their bikes. Motorcycling is primarily a leisure pursuit, so many older riders may have stopped riding for a few years while they were busy raising families and returned to the open road once their children were grown. Others may not have even picked up the hobby until they hit middle-age or later, when they were economically comfortable and able to afford the bike and the time to ride it.

If you're a motorcyclist that's over the age of 39, it pays to be extra cautious out there on the road. If you are in an accident, it may take your injuries longer to heal, and an attorney can help you learn more about the possibility of a lawsuit to help you recover for your injuries.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Older riders more likely to land in hospital after crashes," accessed Jan. 27, 2017

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