Older Motorcycle Riders at Higher Risk

Motorcycle crash injuries higher and more severe among older riders

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) It's no secret that riding a motorcycle can lead to serious injuries during a car crash. But it appears that the age of the riders can make a difference in their injuries.

A recent study found that riders aged 60 and older were about three times more likely to be hospitalized for injuries from motorcycle crashes than younger riders.

They were also more likely to experience more severe injuries. For example, older riders were more than twice as likely to have head or neck injuries than riders under 40.

Broken bones were the most common injuries for bikers, but the most severe were head injuries, which can be reduced or prevented by wearing a helmet.

"Wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle."

The study, led by Tracy L. Jackson, a graduate student in the Department of Epidemiology at Brown University in Rhode Island, looked at the ages and injuries of individuals involved in motorcycle crashes.

The researchers analyzed data from 2001 to 2008 on motorcycle crash injuries treated in emergency departments. The data came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program.

In total, almost 1.5 million individuals were treated in emergency rooms for injuries from motorcycle crashes. The largest age group for these included those aged 20 to 39, among whom there were 921,229 crashes.

Among those aged 40 to 59, there were 466,125 crashes, and among those aged 60 and older, there were 65,660.

However, those in the oldest group also saw the biggest increases in injuries over the study period. The number of injuries across all groups increased from 2001 to 2008, but those aged 60 and older were about three times more likely than the youngest group to be hospitalized for motorcycle crash injuries.

The middle-aged group, from 40 to 59, were almost twice as likely as the youngest group to sustain injuries from a crash that required hospital attention.

The researchers also looked at how severe the injuries were and found similar patterns. The oldest group of adults were about 2.5 times more likely to have severe injuries than the youngest group, especially in terms of internal organ injuries.

Middle-aged adults were about 66 percent more likely to have severe injuries than the youngest group. Both older groups were also more likely to have head injuries, which were among the most severe injuries.

About 28 percent of the younger riders had head or neck injuries, compared to 39 percent of the middle-aged riders and 47 percent of the older riders.

The most common injuries in all age groups were fractures. Younger riders were more likely to have broken arms, while middle-aged and older adults were more likely to have fractures in their upper trunk area.

About 31 percent of the younger riders, 38 percent of the middle-aged riders and 44 percent of the older riders had fractures or dislocations.

The authors noted that head injuries were among the most severe injuries across all age groups.

"The current study did not have information on helmet use, but the large number of head injuries requiring hospital admission further leads to an inference of the importance of riders wearing proper helmets," the authors wrote.

The study was published February 6 in the journal Injury Prevention. Information on funding was unavailable, but the authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 5, 2013
Last Updated:
February 7, 2013