Deaths have risen among riders 55- to 64-years-old, reported The Wall Street Journal (12.21.14). Baby Boomers accounted for 16.3% of motorcycle crash deaths in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. That was down from 17.2% in 2012 but up from 9.3% a decade earlier and less than 3% in the early 1990s.
The number is significant considering that the overall U.S. motorcycle toll appears to have leveled off in recent years. On a typical day, twelve people die in motorcycle accidents.
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, of the 166 motorcyclists killed in 2013, close to 97 percent were male and nearly 33 percent were 45 or older. Thirty were 55 or older.
The accidents are not always the fault of the driver. As reported by the Wall Street Journal. Benjamin Garrett III, 60, was headed to his job when the driver of an oncoming Ford Mustang made a left turn. Garrett died after he clipped the back end of the car with his Harley-Davidson and was ejected from the bike. Garrett was wearing a helmet and a reflective jacket. The driver of the car was charged with failure to yield.
The Wall Street Journal listed a few other reasons for the rise in deaths among older riders. One reason is that there are more people in that age bracket. The percentage of Americans between 55 and 64 years old increased to 12.3% in 2012 from 10.8% in 2007.
Another reason for the higher number of deaths is that older riders are more vulnerable. They have slower reflexes, declining eyesight and less overall physical abilities. Their bodies are also more fragile. When older riders get hurt, they are more likely than younger riders to get seriously hurt.
Baby Boomers who rode motorcycles in their 20s or 30s and then stopped are also getting back on the road with motorcycles that are typically larger than those they had when they were younger.
Driver error is the biggest factor behind motorcycle accidents. In 2013, the most common causes of motorcycle crashes and deaths in New York State were failure to yield right of way, speeding and distracted driving.
Older bikers, whether they are new, continuing or returned, are urged to take safety courses to hone their skills.
Most motorcycle accident lawsuits are based on negligence, or the failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care. An investigation by an experienced lawyer may help to prove that another driver acted negligently by failing to follow traffic laws, or pay attention to his or her surroundings.