More older riders are getting injured: UBC study

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According to a study by the University of British Columbia, more older riders are getting injured in crashes in that province, while younger riders are staying healthier.

The study says hospitalization costs for older male motorcyclists rose by 60 per cent between 2001 and 2010. The researchers found motorcycle-related hospitalization rate for males age 45 to 74 increased significantly from 18.4 to 36.0 per 100 000 population in that time period, while the rate for both younger and older female riders did not change significantly.

Younger male riders (aged 20 to 44 years old) saw a 22 per cent drop in hospitalization rates in that time. They also spent less time in hospital when injured.

Another interesting find of the study – researches found crashes tended to be in less urbanized area of the province, instead of busy city intersections.

The study’s recommendation?  Thankfully, it wasn’t to ban bikes. They say there’s a need for “an evidence-based injury prevention initiative targeting older male motorcycle riders.” They think doctors could be a big part of this, although that doesn’t sound like it would work.

Our take on it? It’s interesting, for sure. For one thing, it seems to go against the line we’re told by insurance companies: “Young riders are dangerous, so we charge them more.” Or, maybe the drop is just because there are fewer young riders out there now? Or maybe it’s something else. Could younger riders simply be riding safer bikes, with ABS and better handling, and wearing proper helmets and gear?

You can read the study for yourself in the BC Medical Journal.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Have to agree with many of the comments I’ve read here; there are way too many inexperienced older riders out there. Almost as scary as their inexperience is the fear they seem to have while they ride. I’m an old school guy who believes the best place to learn is the dirt…then the road. Sadly, not so many have that luxury these days.

  2. Are they sure its not just fewer younger guys riding these days?
    I just turned 50…and motorcycles just don’t seem as popular as they did when I first got my license.
    Lot more girls on scooters though…

  3. I did a research project 3 years ago trying to prove a thesis.
    I felt confident I would be able to measure a statistical increase in motorcycle related deaths or serious injuries with the influx of new riders – most likely in the 50+ age range.
    I’m glad to say my theory was completely wrong.
    There was no statistical evidence of an increase in motorcycle fatalities or serious injuries from the early 70s to 2010.
    Research data is easily found and available from Stats Canada in case anyone is interested in doing their own research.
    In fact, based on the findings of this UBC report – I would highly recommend a bit of research before accepting this report at face value.

  4. Interesting and many good points are being raised here and I can observe that there is more older riders on the road now with the many baby boomers who got into motorcycling often with not much knowledge about riding bikes and without taking any training since they automatically had their motorcycle endorsement on their driving license when they got their car license in the first place. Also as many of them ride cruisers they wear open face helmets which seem to result in more facial injuries. Again this is what I tend to observe and I don’t hold the actual statistics.

  5. Also need a breakdown of years ridden. There are a lot and I mean a lot of Older ( Older than 50) entry level riders out here in the lower mainland. The I’ve always wanted a motorcycle crowd, are getting a lot of licenses, and from what I’ve seen, seem to think that they are better riders than they actually are, they wear the least amount of gear… gotta look cool, and basically do nothing to improve their skill set.

    Here is the scenario:

    2 days of theory classes
    2 days of parking lot training
    2 days of traffic training ( on 250cc cruisers sometimes maybe a 650)
    Road test… pass.

    And what’s the first thing they do? Buy the biggest bike they can afford, because they think they are ready.

    Then for the next 2 years they put on 100,000km slogging their touring bikes down straight boring freeways and think they’ve actually learned how to ride. I rode tailgunner for a group of “newbieish” riders on a weekend trip one year. Maybe 10 bikes in total, let me put it to you this way it was an eye opening experience in what people don’t know how to do when riding a motorcycle… and any advise was quickly ignored…. one of these “experienced” riders cartwheeled her cruiser down the shoulder right in front of me; thankfully she was fine ( pure luck ) but it was scary.

    Great story and statistic though, something that I’ve already thought was true.

    • I just celebrated 44 years since I started riding (there were a few years here and there that when I didn’t ride)
      I have say I am still learning and trying to get better. 4 days of actual riding and you’re ready? Nope.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Same here in the Maritimes. Lot’s of older riders with cash that buy big bikes after a 2 day training and have zero experience. Sometimes I am not sure what I am more scared about, cars or other motorcyclists. That’s the reason I tend to ride alone instead of with a Tim Horton’s crowed. The young riders are maybe more reckless, but I don’t think they are more at risk based on what I have observed around here.

      • I would say that in most case for the younger riders it is due for an over abundance of testosterone and adrenalin , as you say they can be more reckless. Been there before.

  6. Any link to the old riders crashing now were the same young riders crashing then? Once this “klutzy cluster” moves beyond motorcycling the stats may shift. What will the insurance providers tell us then?

  7. To your point about equipment both rider and bike. It would be interesting to see, of those older riders, the breakdown of the motorcycle segment occupied, sport touring, cruiser, big trailie etc

  8. The older you get,your eyesight is worse,motor skill slower,achey all over,balance is off.i know I’m 50.all this contributes to not being able to ride as well when we were younger.of course healing takes a lot longer too!Lol.

    • [soapbox] I think the biggest issue for the 50+ crowd these days is that they’re, generally speaking, more fat than fit. I’m 52 and can step out the door and run a half-marathon without giving it much thought. Loss of fitness in the ‘higher’ years is a matter of choice, not fate.

      I can’t help but think that if these older riders were to spend more time working out than chowing down on Doritos and Pringles, injuries would be dramatically reduced. A lot of the tendency to break instead of bounce as we age can be mitigated by working out and stretching. [/soapbox]

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