If you’ve ever watched the cult TV show Sons of Anarchy on FX about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club that operates in Charming, a fictional town in California, you know that people of all ages ride motorcycles. In fact, 25% of all motorcycle riders today are age 50 or older—a segment of the biker population that has more than doubled since 1990. While you may think that older people riding motorcycles will be safer and suffer less injury than young reckless riders, you would be wrong according to a recent study by Brown University.
According to the study published on February 6, 2013 in the journal Injury Prevention, motorcycle bikers age 60 and over were 2 ½ times more likely to end up in an emergency room with severe injuries than riders in their 20s and 30s. While middle-aged riders fared a little better, they were still 66% more likely to sustain serious injury than were younger bikers. To make matters worse, older and middle-aged bikers were more likely to suffer more severe injuries like broken bones (not surprising due to brittleness), internal injuries, and brain injuries. Younger riders, on the other hand, were more likely to suffer more minor injuries such as abrasions, sprains, and contusions.
The Brown study notes that the greater severity of injury among older bikers may be due to “physiological changes that occur as the body ages.” The authors of the study noted that as age increases, bone strength decreases, fat distribution changes, the chest wall becomes less elastic, reaction times are delayed, and balance and vision worsen. All of this leads to a perfect recipe for older bikers suffering more injuries.
If you are an age 50-plus rider and enjoy the feel of wind in your hair (or the lack thereof), the best way you can protect yourself is to attend specialized training for older riders, and use protective chest and head gear. May you live a long life of Anarchy!