Thursday, December 25, 2014

Uneasy Rider: Boomer Deaths in Motorcycle Crashes Rise ...

More Older Riders Take to the Road, but Reflexes Aren’t as Fast
On a typical day in the U.S., a dozen people die in motorcycle accidents. An increasing number of them are baby boomers.
Though the overall U.S. motorcycle toll appears to have leveled off in recent years, deaths have risen among older riders as more of them hit the road. Those 55- to 64-years-old accounted for 16.3% of motorcycle crash deaths in 2013, the latest year for which that breakdown is 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.
Randall Dowell, age 50, lost part of his leg and sustained 
other injuries in a motorcycle accident in April. 
Steven Turville for The WSJ
Benjamin Garrett III, 60 years old, was commuting to his job at an industrial-technology firm in early November when the driver of an oncoming Ford Mustang made a left turn. Mr. Garrett’s Harley-Davidson clipped the back end of the car, ejecting him from the motorcycle. The father of six, a volunteer basketball coach, was pronounced dead in a hospital near his Bradenton, Fla., home.
“He was a very careful rider,” said Holly Switow, Mr. Garrett’s widow. She said he was wearing a helmet and a newly purchased reflective jacket. The driver of the car was charged with failure to yield.
One reason for the rise in deaths among older riders 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. That group’s share of motorcycle deaths rose even faster.
While older riders may be less reckless in their habits, they also are more vulnerable, said James Hedlund, a traffic-safety consultant in Ithaca, N.Y. “Their reflexes and their vision aren’t as good as they were,” he said, and their bodies are more fragile: “The same impact will cause more damage to a 55-year-old than a 25-year-old.”
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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