Maryland Traffic Accident Update: Older Motorcyclists’ Risk of Death from Bike Wrecks Higher than Younger Riders

As we mentioned in our previous entry, motorcyclists are one of the more individualistic groups of people out there; certainly one of the most visible to everyday commuters on Maryland roadways. And while a widely held belief is that bikers as a whole are wild thrill-seekers bent on self destruction, that view is far from the truth for most conscientious motorcycle riders.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers representing victims of car, motorcycle and trucking-related accidents, I and my colleagues have met enough motorcyclists to know that these people can be some of the more safety conscious individuals on the road. And why not? Unlike a typical passenger car driver or commercial trucker, a biker is totally exposed to nearly every danger that Maryland traffic can dish out, with no real protection save some leather and a DOT-approved helmet.

As we stated earlier, being aware and ready for trouble is no guarantee of actually avoiding it on the road. Rockville, Washington, D.C., Gaithersburg and Annapolis expressways and surface streets have been the scene of many serious and fatal motorcycle wrecks over the years. For most any motorcyclist, even the most minor accident can result in painful personal injuries such as road rash, deep lacerations, broken bones and even spinal cord damage.

As we age, our bodies can become less tolerant of injury, which is why it may be important for older bikers to keep in mind that what experts have been saying; that older motorcycle riders who are involved in serious traffic accidents tend to have a lower rate of survivability than younger riders, given the same circumstances.

In other words, with a greater chance of death following a car-bike or truck-bike collision, older riders should consider the odds before taking to the street in what many might term less than optimal road or weather conditions. Naturally, we can’t eliminate every accident, but limiting the opportunity for a bike wreck might help some riders live to ride another day.

Quite often, injuries sustained as a result of a motorcycle crash can be fatal. Certainly, in some of the more serious cases, a victim may survive yet end up in a permanently disabled state. With more than 100,000 motorcycle crashes occurring across the U.S. every year, a good five percent of those result in a rider’s death. All things being equal, we have seen statistics that show a typical biker is 35 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than someone traveling in a car or truck.

A while back we learned that older bikers do in fact have a statistically higher risk of injury or death following a traffic-related accident. According researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, aging bikers were found to be at greater risk of being hurt or dying as a result of a roadway collision than if they were much younger. The study that came from this research pretty much turned the common wisdom that young and relatively healthier riders are the ones more often killed in bike crashes.

Included in those findings were some key stats, not the least of which was that the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes during the period 1996 through 2005 ranged from 34 to 39; that during this period, the percentage of over-40 motorcyclists who were injured as a result of a crash over increased from about 28 percent to almost 50 percent; Finally, age range that experienced the greatest increase in injuries and deaths from motorcycle wrecks was that of the 50- to 59-year-old group.

The study also found that the number of cyclists aged 60- to 70-years-old who were hurt in traffic accidents was up during the same ten year period. Apparently, motorcyclists older than age 40 experienced a greater fatality rate than bikers under 40; and those who did die following a motorcycle accident were more likely to succumb to less serious injuries, when compared to their younger counterparts.

Of course, preexisting conditions and the body’s naturally reduced ability to endure injuries as one ages were major contributors to fatalities, as well as to extended hospital stays and longer-term health complications among older riders.

Taking all this into consideration, we hope that riders of all ages will remember that they are not indestructible and that a modicum of safety and commonsense can go a long way to preserving one’s life.

Aging Motorcyclists Hit the Road, But at Greater Risk of Injury, Death, PR Newswire, April 5, 2010
National Trauma Data Bank, American College of Surgeons
University of Rochester Medical Center

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