As Baby Boomers get back on their motorcycles, fatalities rise

Motorcycle deaths are on the rise, especially for riders aged 50 and older. This article looks at why.

After a long, cold winter, the weather is finally starting to warm up and the snow is melting. For motorcyclists, that means the 2018 riding season is just around the corner. However, this year safety is more important than ever before for bikers, especially older ones. That's because, as the Chicago Tribune reports, fatal motorcycle accidents are on the rise across the country. The increase in fatalities is largely being fueled by older riders, many of whom are getting back on their bikes after not having done so in decades.

Motorcycle fatalities rising among older riders

As the Press of Atlantic City reports, there were 4,693 motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. in 2015. What was most concerning about that figure, however, was how older riders accounted for far more deaths today than in the past. In 2015, for example, 35 percent, or 1,661, of motorcyclists killed in accidents were 50 or older. That's a seven percent increase from the 1,553 deaths involving riders aged 50 and over in the previous year.

Compared to previous decades, the figure represents an especially sharp increase. In the early 1980s, for example, riders aged 50 and over accounted for just three percent of motorcyclist fatalities. By 1999, that figure had risen to 13 percent and then 35 percent in 2015.

Why are more older riders dying?

There are a number of theories as to why so many more older riders are dying on the road today than in the past. One explanation is that many Baby Boomers are taking up riding again after decades of not having done so. Those riders, many of whom are now retired and have the time to bike, often underappreciate how their motorcycle skills may have deteriorated over time. In that time, the bikes themselves have become more dangerous and tend to be bigger and more powerful than they were in the 1960s or 70s.

What is clear is that regardless of the age of the rider, wearing a helmet is key to reducing one's risk. Federal data shows that motorcyclist deaths are 27 times higher than deaths involving other vehicle types. Unfortunately, in recent years many states have scrapped their mandatory helmet laws, which has helped fuel the increase in motorcyclist deaths. New Jersey, fortunately, still has a mandatory helmet law. Safety experts caution riders to choose a helmet that has a U.S. DOT symbol affixed to the exterior.

Representation for accident victims

For those who have been hurt in an accident, it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An accident, whether it involves a motorcycle or other vehicle type, can lead to astronomical costs, including for medical bills, lost income, and property damage. A personal injury attorney can guide clients through the claims process and help them pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.