Older man on motorcycleOlder men who ride motorcycles are at greater risk of injuries from accidents, according to a new study, as Shereen Lehman reports for Reuters Health in an article appearing on Business Insider. The Canadian study, published in the BC Medical Journal, finds that injuries have increased in men over 45, whereas they have stayed the same for women and younger men, Lehman writes.

The researchers undertook the study, in which they analyzed data from British Columbia’s motorcycle-related Discharge Abstract Database for 2001 to 2010, because research has shown a similar increase in injury and mortality rates among older motorcycle riders in the United States, as the BCMJ.org abstract explains. The study conjectures that baby boomers who rode motorcycles in their youth as inexpensive transportation might be returning to them after “a long hiatus.” Other research finds that many people ride for leisure rather than to get from point A to point B, the study says. Older men make more trips on high-powered motorcycles, and those are linked with higher mortality rates, the study reports.

The researchers are concerned about “age-related changes in physical and cognitive ability that can affect driving ability, particularly when drivers are on heavy, powerful machines.” In the U.S., adults age 60 and over had the largest rate of increase in injuries, were more likely to require hospitalization, and suffered more severe injuries than younger riders, the study reports, according to an analysis of data in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Another study, the researchers write, found that motorcycle accident patients over age 50 needed more aggressive treatment and longer hospital stays, despite not having more severe injuries than those under 50.

In comparing hospitalization rates in Canada for older males due to falls and motor vehicle accidents (using the Injury Data Online Tool developed by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit), the study found that, from 2001 to 2010, the rate of hospitalization for older males in motorcycle crashes doubled, as compared with an increase from falls of only 6.67%. Researchers found that whereas younger riders were more likely to suffer dislocations, sprains, strains, and fractures from motorcycle accidents, older riders were “significantly” more likely to sustain injuries to muscles, tendons, vessels, internal organs, nerves, and the spinal cord.

In one finding of special importance for lawmakers in the U.S., the study says:

Unlike findings in previous US research, we found older male motorcyclists in BC were not more likely than younger motorcyclists to sustain serious head injuries. This may be due to differing helmet laws in the US, where helmet use is mandatory in only 19 states and the District of Columbia, compared to Canada, where helmets are mandatory nationwide.

Consumer Reports offers a state-by-state guide to motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S. In Colorado, the Department of Transportation writes:

Helmets: Although helmets are proven to save lives, riders age 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, if the motorcycle operator or passengers are under age 18, they must wear DOT-approved helmets.

In 2006, 65% of fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws, compared with only 13% in states with all-rider helmet laws. (NHTSA, 2007)

Lehman quotes Mariana Brussoni of the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, who led the study, as saying, “The idea is not to get older men off their motorbikes, but rather to make sure everything is being done to help them keep themselves safe when they’re riding.” Brussoni suggests recommending that older motorcycle riders get good training, wear protective gear, try to ride in daylight rather than at night, and avoid riding in inclement weather.

A commenter named conniver posted the following below the Business Insider article:

I raced in WERA,CCS,and GLRRA for more than 6 seasons, and I would never ride on the street.

It is asking to get killed.

Image by Don Richards

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