Older and Wiser Bikers? Maybe Not So Much

Does how long you’ve been on the road on your bike make you safer?

Well, yes and no.

You could argue, and lots of riders do, that the more experience you have on the road the less likely you are to be involved in something unfortunate, and there’s certainly some merit in that argument. Getting old while doing something dangerous might indicated that a rider has managed to figure out the equation.

The stats seem to indicate otherwise, but they might be skewed by the fact that many older riders involved in crashes are on their first motorcycles and essentially neophyte riders with little experience of how bikes handle in emergency situations to fall back on in times of peril.

With riding more popular in recent years, its appeal to a new group of enthusiasts has brought in a group of older and more affluent riders. Sales of all types of two-wheeled motorcycles totaled over 1 million in 2008. That number fell about 41 percent in 2009, but there were  7.7 million motorcycles on the road in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Motorcycle fatalities, which had been climbing for the last 11 years, reached 5,312 in 2008, and that was the highest level since the Department of Transportation began collecting data in 1975.

The good news is that in 2009, motorcycle fatalities fell 16 percent, to 4,462.

The bad news?

There’s been a dramatic jump in the number of deaths among motorcyclists age 40 and older in recent years. Why?

Motorcycles are by their nature far more dangerous in a crash than closed vehicles, and they’re less visible to other drivers and pedestrians. Add to that the fact that bikes are less stable than four-wheel vehicles and that operating a motorcycle requires a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles, and you have a dangerous cocktail indeed. Reaction times and physical skills are critical to operating a motorcycle, and those skills certainly degrade with advancing age.

Motorcyclists and their passengers are also much more vulnerable to the hazards of weather and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles, and that’s yet another factor.

As with athletes, physical skills may well reach a low point which requires a graceful retirement from competition, and there may also be a time when riders should put away their bikes for good. That will be a hard sell, but that’s just the way it is…

The conclusion? Don’t get old if you like to ride your bike. Sobering but statistically sound advice is never welcome.


2009 Crash Data:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, 4,462 people died in motorcycle crashes, down 16.0 percent from 5,312 in 2008. The 2008 deaths were the most since NHTSA began collecting data in 1975. Motorcycle crash fatalities  increased every year for the 11 years ending in 2009.
  • According to the latest data available from the Federal Highway Administration, there were 7.9 million private and commercial motorcycles on U.S. roads in 2009, compared with 134.9  million passenger cars.
  • Some 106,000 motorcycles were involved in crashes in 2009, including property damage-only crashes, according to latest data from the NHTSA.
  • Motorcyclists were 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled in 2008 and eight times more likely to be injured, according to NHTSA.
  • The fatality rate per registered vehicle for motorcyclists in 2008 was 6 times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants, according to NHTSA.

Buying Your First Bike? The Women’s Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

Whether you ride a sport bike or an American cruiser, your insurance needs can get complicated.
We’re here to help you find the right motorcycle insurance, whatever you ride…

Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:

  • Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
  • Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
  • Towing / Pickup
  • Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.

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