It should come as no surprise that older motorcyclists, and all older motorists, are more easily injured in motor vehicle accidents. Older riders tend to have weaker bones and less elasticity in the chest, among other physiological changes. The rate at which older drivers are injured compared to younger drivers, however, is surprising.
A new study by Brown University (published in Injury Prevention) found that bikers over 60 years old were 2.5 times more likely to be seriously injured than riders in their 20s and 30s. Riders in their 40s and 50s were 66 percent more likely to face injury. Furthermore, younger riders often suffered strains, sprains and non-serious broken bones while older riders suffered many more brain injuries, regardless of helmet use.
In addition to physiological changes, researchers point at the type of bikes and gear used by riders. Older riders tend to have more expensive gear, which can help prevent against abrasions, but they ride bigger and faster bikes, which can cause more serious injuries.
No matter what your age, it is important to ride safely and wear proper protective gear. A biker must be alert and ready to react to dangerous situations at all times. This means keeping your fingers and feet close to the brake lever and pedal. It also means riding in a lower gear when there is heavy traffic so that you can jump ahead quickly.
Unfortunately, you cannot rely on other drivers to watch out for you. Instead, try your best to stay in their line of vision and ride with your high beams on, even during the day. Ride in open zones and scan the pavement before you for problems.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, seek treatment as soon as possible for your injuries, even if they seem minor and even if you are a younger driver. For, while older drivers face more serious injuries in motorcycle accidents, even small injuries can lead to lifelong problems.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Older motorcyclists suffer greater injury in crashes, study says," Monte Morin, Feb. 7, 2013
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