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More caution needed around baby boomer motorcyclists

If you want to understand the danger motorcyclists face on U.S. roadways each and every year, one simply needs to look at crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From 2003 to 2008, fatal motorcycle accidents were steadily on the rise across the nation, claiming at its peak more than 5,300 lives. Although fatalities dropped drastically in 2009 to 4,469, that number continues to rise as the years go on.

Most alarming though is the fact that those riders who are in the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket accounted for 16.3 percent of the total lives lost due to motorcycle accidents in 2013 alone. So why are more elderly people getting involved in motorcycle accidents, you might ask? Experts say we need to look at the facts about our aging population to answer this question.

Most people who are age 55 to 64 were born during the baby boomer generation, which is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as an individual who was born between mid-1946, or the end of World War II, and mid-1964. Much as is the case with the health care industry, those who consider themselves experts in transportation have noted an increase in the number of elderly drivers on U.S. roadways. In one way, this has led to the alarming statistic we stated above. The more people from this age bracket who are on the roadways, the more likely they are to become involved in an accident, explains a Dec. 21, 2014 Wall Street Journal article.

But as the article also pointed out, this is not the only reason fatal motorcycle crashes are on the rise among elderly drivers. As the article points out, motorcyclists at this age typically have slower reflexes and poorer eyes sight than their younger counterpart riders. This means they are less likely to see a dangerous situation before it's too late. They may also be unable to avoid it as well.

Injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash are also far more serious for older drivers than younger ones. What may result in serious injury for a 25-year-old rider could be fatal for someone who is 55 years of age or older. If the driver of the other vehicle was at fault, this could mean a shift from a personal injury lawsuit to a wrongful death claim.

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