Summer months bring motorcycle riders across the United States. Beautiful weather and fantastic scenery adds cyclists of any age to California roads. Yet those most at risk for serious injury proves to be older adults.
While multiple factors determine the level of severe injury in a motorcycle crash, understanding the risk of riding during retirement may help you lessen your chances of personal injury or death.
The statistics of motorcycle crashes
Due to retirement, adults over 50 fill streets and highways on motorcycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 1,800 of 5,000 motorcycle crash deaths occurred in the over-50 age bracket -- nearly three times more than any other age group.
Nearly 97% of crashes occurred in conditions that depicted clear and cloudy skies, and 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2015 alone. Alcohol, speeding and age all constituted reasons for serious crash injuries.
Injuries sustained prove life-threatening
As bodies age, the ability to recover from serious injuries lessens. A Brown University study conducted in 2008 explains that organ fat distribution changes as we get older, and less body fat protection increases the chances of traumatic injuries during a crash.
Riding a motorcycle involves nearly no protection compared to an enclosed vehicle. Hot summer days leave riders deciding to not wear long sleeves or pants to protect from even minor scratches and scrapes. When a 4,000-pound vehicle hits a rider anywhere from 40 to 60 mph, the damage a rider may sustain proves enough to kill.
Some common life-threatening injuries among older adult riders include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Serious internal organ bleeding
- Thoracic injuries
- Upper extremity fractures
- Pelvis injuries
Further, physical injury may not be the only cost to a motorcyclist. Severe head injuries cost an estimated $43,000 to the victim and insurance, not to mention loss of work, physical therapy and chronic symptoms.
You cannot control the actions of fellow motorists before a crash, but you can control your own actions. Understanding the statistical risks of operating a motorcycle over the age of 50 may help you protect yourself with gear or make the decision to drive only on certain roads. Every rider proves at risk for life-threatening injuries, so make road decisions that avoid personal injury at all costs.