Road Safety News

Older bikers more susceptible to injury, US study finds

Thursday 7th February 2013

Motorcyclists over the age of 60 are three times more likely to be hospitalised following a crash than younger bikers, a US study suggests (BBC News).

The report, in the journal ‘Injury Prevention’, found that serious chest and rib cage fractures were very common. The authors suggest that reduced bone strength in older adults and their ability to buy more powerful bikes may play a part.

Motorbike groups in the UK say they have seen similar trends, according to the BBC News report.

Nich Brown, from the Motorcycle Action Group, said: “The number of older motorcyclists in Britain has risen over the past decade - as has the number being injured. Although the numbers are much smaller than the US, the proportion of injury in each age group is similar.

“As well as an ageing population, the popularity of motorcycling among older riders with the time and cash to spend means more are returning to biking or taking it up for the first time - for the most part quite safely.”

The study analysed data between 2001 to 2008 from the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) which collects information from 100 US hospitals that have an A&E.

Bikers over the age of 60 were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital compared with those in their 20s and 30s, and two-and-a-half times more likely to sustain a serious injury.

The authors of the study said: “The greater severity of injuries among older adults may be due to the physiological changes that occur as the body ages, bone strength decreases, fat distribution may change and there is a decrease in the elasticity of the chest wall.

“Other factors such as a delayed reaction time, altered balance and worsening vision may also make older adults more prone to crashing.”

Upper body fractures were more common in older adults, while arm, shoulder, and hand fractures were more likely in those that were younger. This may be due to their faster reaction times - sticking their arms out to protect their fall, suggests Chris Hodder from the British Motorcyclists Federation.

He said: “There are fewer accidents here in the UK than the US. We've had a good rider training programme over the last 40-50 years while in the US training has been a mixed picture due to its size and differences across states. Also drink-driving is a much bigger problem there.”

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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There can be no doubt that motorcycles can be powerful machines. Add to that the weight that some of them have and it may be understandable. Some elderly riders could possibly lose control as the bike may well run away with them being too heavy for their control.

As men age they to suffer a loss of hormones. In this case it's testosterone and this can lead to a decrease in muscle bulk and ultimately strength. Maybe that's some of the causation of such accidents.
bob craven Lancs

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I agree with Bob. Generally the older you are the frailer you become. Whether you walk, drive or ride you don't bounce as well. It happens to all of us as the years go by.
Mark - Wiltshire

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Socio economic changes over the last 40 yrs have led to an increase in active elderly who continue to enjoy a proactive and hopefully happy life. I wonder though whilst one or two agencies say that older drivers are safer. another organisiation may be saying the opposite here.
Bob Craven Lancs

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