Both fitness and skill levels are vital for older motorcyclists. They can make the difference between a pleasant ride and a devastating crash.
If you are a senior citizen about to dust off your Harley and take to the open road, answer these questions: Are you physically fit to ride? Are your riding skills up to snuff?
An aging group of riders
Insurance Institute of Highway Safety data shows a clear trend toward older motorcycle riders. In 1975, riders age 29 and younger accounted for 80% of all motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. The fatalities continue to rise, but the age group with the most deaths has gradually shifted to riders 52 and older. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate of 1975 for this age group had more than doubled by 2015.
Fitness and skill level issues
There are 76 million Americans whose birth dates fell between 1946 and 1964. These older citizens represent a large portion of our population. They loved riding motorcycles when they were in their 20s. Now, they have the time and resources to take up riding again. However, many do not realize that their riding skills are rusty, nor do they acknowledge age-related physiological issues like slower reflexes, balance changes and even grip strength.
All motorcyclists are vulnerable not only to injury, but also to becoming overheated or dehydrated. Those in good physical shape and have honed their riding skills will be considerably more able to handle an emergency situation. New technology has made motorcycles safer and more visible, and designers keep offering new options in safety gear. The NHTSA tells us that in 2015, helmets saved 1,772 motorcyclists from serious injury. Furthermore, if every rider had worn a helmet, an estimated 740 fatalities may not have happened.
Protecting your rights
Motorcyclists have the same rights as any other motorist. However, that is not enough to prevent collisions from happening to anyone, including older riders, even if physical fitness and riding skills are not an issue. Many motorists who cause such crashes say that they “just did not see the motorcycle.” This is no excuse. If you are the victim of a vehicle-motorcycle crash, explore your legal options promptly. You are entitled to full and fair compensation to cover your medical expenses, loss of wages and more.