Motorcycle deaths rose to the highest level in eight years in 2016. Although some of the increase was also in line with an increase in motorcycle registrations. The number of motorcycles on the road increased to 8.6 million motorcycles in 2015 compared with 8.4 million in 2014.
From 2015 to 2016, motorcycle fatalities rose 5.1%, while deaths among older baby boomers increased over 20%. There were 156 more fatalities among motorcycle riders 60 or older in 2016 compared with 2015. Crashes and injuries among the 50- to 59-year-olds showed the most rapid increase. While injuries in the 20- to 29-year-olds showed the most rapid decline. Impaired vision, delayed reaction time, and altered balance, which accompany the natural aging process, contribute to crashes among older motorcyclists.
A lot of cultural factors play a part, too. This generation grew up when motorcycles made the shift from the playthings of outlaws and gear heads to countercultural cool. Then the baby boomers grew up, had families, built careers and put the bikes aside. However, as they became empty nesters or felt
mid-life crisis seeping in, they took the bike back out of the garage. They think they can just go back to what they did at 22. When you’re 35 and fall off a motorcycle at 25 miles per hour you bounce back, not so much when you’re 75.
The rebel motorcyclists of the 1960s and 70s have grown up and their love of motorcycles has spread to more mainstream Americans. The average age of a Harley Davidson owner is now over 45. Dozens of active adult communities across the country have active Motorcycle clubs.
Bikers under the age of 45 are three times as likely to be in a crash while driving. This suggests that while older motorcyclists are less reckless, they are more likely to be injured or killed.
Whether single or married, male or female, Baby Boomers are one of the largest demographics that have discovered the joy of the open road. Brown University research suggests that motorcyclists 60 and older are hospitalized after an accident three times more often than younger riders. That’s mostly because older people are more likely to have underlying health conditions.
So, for you Baby Boomers, I recommend taking a refresher riding course. Stay safe and ride your ride (not like your 22 again).
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