Although riding motorcycles has typically been seen as an activity for twenty- and thirty-somethings, the number of riders over the age of 40 has spiked in recent years. As their ridership has increased, so have injuries among older riders.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle riders in the 40-and-older age group saw an increase in crash fatalities from 1,854 in 2004 to 2,580 in 2013—a 39 percent increase. NHTSA statistics also revealed that the average age of a motorcyclist killed in a crash in 2013 was 42, up from 38 in 2004.

Injuries to Older Bikers: A Growing Concern

Motorcycle crash injuries are of particular concern among older adults. In fact, motorcyclists over the age of 60 are three times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash compared to younger bikers, according to a new study. Also, injuries to older adult motorcyclists tend to be more severe than injuries sustained by younger bikers, noted the study’s authors, led by Tracy Jackson, a public health researcher at Brown University in Rhode Island.

The study’s authors looked at 1.5 million motorcycle crashes between 2001 and 2008 from data pulled from the national injury tracker. Researchers broke the data into age groups: adults 20 to 39, 40 to 59, and over 60 years old. The study revealed the following information about motorcycle crashes:

  • Motorcycle injury rates went up across all three age groups.
  • The number of injuries for motorcyclists over the age of 60 increased 247 percent between 2001 and 2008.
  • Bikers over 60 were two and a half times more likely to end up with a serious injury in a crash than those in their 20s and 30s and three times more likely to be admitted to a hospital after a collision.
  • Middle-aged motorcyclists were 66 percent more likely to sustain a serious injury in a crash compared to younger riders and twice as likely to be hospitalized.

While motorcyclists involved in crashes—no matter the age—can suffer injuries to their head, face, neck, chest, spine, abdomen, upper extremity, lower extremity, and skin, older and middle-aged bikers suffered more chest and rib cage injuries, internal organ damage, and brain injuries than their younger counterparts.

Riding a motorcycle can make older riders feel young again, but it is important that they take this information seriously and attend training courses, gear up for a safe ride, and understand that their declining eyesight, hearing, reflexes, and strength can negatively affect the way they handle their bikes.