Often, those among the over-60 motorcycle set have more time in their lives to enjoy riding the open road.
For these older riders, defensive driving is a must because the injuries they may suffer in a crash could be life-threatening—or worse.
The effects of age
Age takes a toll on everyone. For senior citizens, reflexes will be slower than they once were. Given the slower reaction time and failing eyesight, it will take longer for riders to identify a potential emergency situation.
Older riders also risk fractures because their bones are more brittle than they were when riders were younger. Additionally, protecting the chest wall is more of a concern.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 8.6 million motorcycles were registered in 2015, which was an uptick from the 8.4 million registered in 2014. In part, baby boomer motorcycle riders were responsible for the increase. The older generation loved motorcycles in their younger years, adopting the “cool” factor once associated with “hoods” and their Harleys. When the boomers married and settled into family life, they put their bikes in the garage and left them there until they became empty nesters and had more time for motorcycle enjoyment.
Federal crash data
In 2017, the American Automobile Association analyzed recent federal crash data. The AAA put together a report showing that in 2016, the mortality rate for motorcyclists aged 60 and older was over four times higher than the overall motorcycle fatalities for that year. In fact, from 2015 to 2016, motorcycle fatalities among baby boomers rose by more than 20 percent.
Motorists should drive defensively, but motorcycle riders must be even more vigilant. Motorists see cars and trucks, not always the smaller objects like bicycles and motorcycles. After a crash, the driver who was at fault often says, “I just didn’t see it.” But excuses like that do not mean much if someone is a victim with a devastating injury that brought him or her within moments of becoming a fatality.