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Middle-aged riders a growing percentage of motorcycle deaths

A rider or passenger getting killed in a motorcycle accident is a tragedy, no matter how old the victim is. Having said that, a trend in motorcycle crashes should be especially concerning to Baby Boomers and their families.

The Wall Street Journal reports that people in their mid-50s to their mid-60s account for many more deaths in motorcycle accidents than in years past. According to the Journal, people in that age range were victims in fewer than three percent of fatal crashes in the early 1990s.

By 2012, 17.2 percent of victims were 55 to 64 when they were killed. That percentage went down slightly to 16.3 percent in 2013, but still represents a huge jump in the proportion of riders and passengers who were killed in accidents late in middle age.

It appears that there are two sources for this change over the past 20-something years. For one thing, people aged 55 to 64 are riding motorcycles more than before. As the “Easy Rider” generation continues their enthusiasm for riding -- 55- to 64-year-olds made up 12.3 percent of riders in 2012, up 1.5 percent in five years -- the percentage of riders in that age range getting into serious wrecks would naturally go up.

Of course, people in their teens, 20s and 30s are vulnerable to serious injury when they get hit by a car or truck. But younger riders may survive some motorcycle crashes that riders in their 50s and 60s, unfortunately, cannot, a traffic-safety consultant said. He added that, besides the fact that their bodies are more fragile, middle-aged riders’ reflexes and vision may not be as good as they used to be.

This could combine to make a serious accident with a negligent driver even worse.

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