Motorcyclist Safety Among Older Riders

Motorcycle rider safety is a critical issue, and is often discussed in this site, both in a number of pages (including the “Illinois Motorcyclist Safety And Helmet Use” page and  the “Illinois Motorcycle Riding After Drinking” page) as well as various posts found under the “Motorcycle Rider Safety” category.

Many different factors can pose risks to Illinois motorcyclists.  The Wall Street Journal article of December 22, 2014, titled “Motorcycle Deaths Rise for Boomers” discusses various factors that pose risks for older riders, especially those considered “Boomers.”   Various statistics are also cited, including a chart showing annual U.S. motorcycle crash deaths since 1991, as well as those involving motorcyclists with ages 55-64.

A couple of excerpts:

While older riders may be less reckless in their habits, they also are more vulnerable, said James Hedlund, a traffic-safety consultant in Ithaca, N.Y. “Their reflexes and their vision aren’t as good as they were,” he said, and their bodies are more fragile: “The same impact will cause more damage to a 55-year-old than a 25-year-old.”


Some baby boomer men gave up motorcycling in their 20s or 30s when they had children and settled down. Once the children were grown, the dads had more time and money, allowing them to buy motorcycles, typically larger than those they had in their youths. In the 1960s, a 650 cubic-centimeter engine was considered big, said Joe Proia, a motorcycle-training instructor in Uxbridge, Mass. Today’s typical Harley engines are more than double that size.
“Just because you rode 20 years ago doesn’t mean you can pick it up where you left off,” said Paul W. Coté, president of the Massachusetts Motorcyclists’ Survivors Fund, which helps families of riders who were killed or injured.
The article also discusses various fatal and nonfatal motorcycle accidents among older riders.  Additional details can be found in the Wall Street Journal article mentioned above.


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