As you drive the roads of West Virginia, you may notice how many motorcycle riders are in their middle years or beyond. They love their big bikes but, like all motorcyclists, they are vulnerable to injury.
Aging brings physiological issues, which is one reason why older riders should do what they can to stay in shape.
A little history
Times change, and so do motorcycle riders. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 80% of motorcycle fatalities that occurred in 1975 involved riders aged 29 or younger. However, in 2017, 35% of motorcycle deaths involved riders aged 50 and older. In fact, motorcycle fatalities are on the rise. In 2016, there were 5,286 such deaths, a 5% increase from 2015.
Why this has occurred
Baby Boomers make up a large part of the U.S. population: There were 76 million babies born between 1946 and 1964, so it is logical to assume that this age group represents a large portion of highway deaths, including motorcycle fatalities. Many senior motorcyclists rode when they were in their twenties. Then they got married, had children and focused on their careers. Now they have the time and resources to take up riding once again. Unfortunately, many do not take safety training nor are they as fit as they once were.
What riders can do
Older riders have to compensate for the changes age brings. For example, grip strength diminishes along with reflexes, and there are changes in balance, which matters when you are riding a heavy motorcycle. The first step an older rider should take is to sign up for safety classes to bring rusty skills up to date. A senior rider should also join a gym to get in shape and stay in shape. Riding a motorcycle is a physical activity, and fitness is key to a safer ride.
Motorcycle riders of every age are at risk for injuries sustained in collisions. Some vehicle-motorcycle crashes can cause serious, life-changing injuries to the brain, the spine or the neck. If you are a member of the over-50 group, explore your legal options if you are ever injured in a crash. Meanwhile, look into safety classes, and resolve to join the local fitness center.