Between 1996 and 2005 the National Trauma Databank reviewed the records of 61,689 motorcyclists aged 17 to 89 years who had been involved in a motorcycle crash. Their findings reveal the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased by approximately 5 years, from 34 to 39, between 1996 and 2005. (It’s consistent with the statistics of the Motorcycle Industry Council showing that the average age of motorcycle ownership rose from 33 to 40 between 1998 and 2003.)
The National Trauma Data Bank results show that the proportion of injured riders above the age of 40 jumped from about 28 percent to close to 50 percent in that same time period. The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) found that for riders over 40, injury severity, length of stay in the hospital or intensive care unit, and mortality were all higher compared with younger riders.
The older motorcyclists are more likely to die from less severe injuries than younger riders, to spend at least 24 hours in the intensive care unit, and to have more pre-existing conditions and complications, such as heart attack or infection, that contribute to extended hospital stays. Depending on the severity of the original injury, the risk of dying was also 1 1/2 to 2 times more likely in those over 40. The reason: treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident. 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them, and this can adversely impact outcomes following injury. Age-related changes, such as decreases in bone strength and brain size, could make older riders more susceptible to injury, the researchers say.