Motorcycle riding is a favorite pastime in Alabama, and because of our warm weather, riders can enjoy the scenic beauty of the Yellowhammer State throughout the year. There is simply nothing like the exhilaration and sense of freedom you get when you glide down the open road with the wind in your face on a warm sunny day.
Riding a motorcycle is wonderful, but it comes at a cost. Because riders are not protected by a steel cage, they are at much greater risk of injury when they are involved in a collision. Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of a motor vehicle, and in the majority of cases, these types of accidents are the fault of the motorist.
Study Shows Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury
All motorcycle riders run a risk for injury, but research indicates that the risk of serious injury is heightened as we get older. A study that was published in 2013 by Consumer Reports shows that the injury risk is highest among senior motorcyclists, defined as riders age 60 and above. This is significant, because the senior riding population has risen sharply over the past couple decades.
The primary reason for the increase in senior motorcyclists is our aging population. Baby Boomers, who have loved riding since they became adults, are now entering retirement. This gives them more free time to enjoy the open roads.
As we get older and our bodies experience more wear and tear, it stands to reason that we would not be as durable as we were during our 20s and 30s. And this is exactly what the study showed. Younger riders, those between the ages of 20 and 39, are involved in far more accidents than those in the senior age group (which is another finding that makes sense). However, motorcycle accidents seem to be much harder on older riders. The study found that:
- Riders age 60 and over are 2.5 times more likely to require emergency room treatment in a motorcycle accident than riders in the youngest age group;
- Middle-aged riders (those between the ages of 40 and 60) are 66% more likely to require emergency room treatment than younger riders;
- Senior riders are three times more likely to require hospitalization than younger riders.
Fractures are among the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries among riders in all age groups, but younger riders tend to suffer broken arms and sometimes broken legs, while riders in the 60 and above age group often suffer more serious fractures, such as in places like the chest and back. When we age, our bone density decreases, making our strongest and most solid bones more brittle, and this helps explain why seniors tend to end up with more severe injuries after a motorcycle accident.
How Senior Motorcyclists Can Protect Themselves
The authors of the study listed several recommendations to help seniors stay safer when they are out riding:
- Take a Motorcycle Safety Course: Many Baby Boomers are new to motorcycle riding or they are just getting back into it after hanging up the helmet for a few decades while they were raising their family. Whatever your level of skill, it is good to take a motorcycle safety course or refresher course, so you are up to speed on all the best safety practices.
- Wear DOT-Approved Helmets: In Alabama, all motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets that are made of non-shattering materials and contain a hard, exterior shell. Be sure to wear a state-approved helmet whenever you are riding.
- Wear Extra Chest Protection: Middle-aged and senior riders can better protect vulnerable areas of their body by wearing extra chest protection.
Another precaution that all motorcycle riders should take is to wear reflective clothing to help other motorists see you better. Distracted driving is a growing epidemic these days, and because of driver inattentiveness, motorists often fail to notice motorcycles that are riding nearby. By wearing bright and reflective clothing, you can vastly reduce the chances of this happening.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Alabama? Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer
Sometimes, you do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash that was the fault of another person or party, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
Call the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Burge & Burge at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation and case assessment. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.