Motorcycles, older riders and the risk of injury or worse

The same people who fell in love with motorcycle riding in their youth are enjoying it again in their golden years.

Arizona offers perfect weather for getting out on the open road and the state has its share of older motorcyclists. However, older riders are also more prone to crashes than their younger counterparts.

Why accidents happen

According to a 2018 report from the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association, fatalities occur 28 times more often to motorcyclists than to the occupants of passenger cars. Motorcycle riders are obviously more vulnerable than travelers protectively encased in their vehicles, but older riders are often at risk for injuries or death due to physiological factors. For example, with age come slower reflexes and vision that is not as sharp as it once was.

How statistics change

For years, young riders held the record for the greatest number of motorcycle crash fatalities across the country. Today that record has shifted to motorcyclists over the age of 40. There is also a large number of riders aged 60-plus. If a senior rider is injured in a motorcycle crash, treatment is often more complicated because many older people have complex medical histories. A motorcycle accident injury adds another layer that makes successful treatment more difficult to achieve.

What might help

The GHSA report also emphasized that if all motorcycle riders wore helmets, this one small effort could save hundreds of lives every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating that the use of helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 37%.