NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As the number of baby boomers taking to the road on motorbikes has risen, so has the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes with riders aged 40 plus more likely to be injured or killed, a U.S. study says.
A University of Rochester Medical Center study of 61,689 motorcyclists aged 17 to 89 found that aging road warriors were nearly twice as likely to die as a result of a motorcycle accident compared to younger riders.
Researchers found that between 1996 and 2005 the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased to about 39 from 34 and the proportion of injured riders aged 40-plus rose to about 50 percent from 28 percent.
The study found that of all injured riders in the study, those aged 50 to 59 represented the fastest growing group, while 20 to 29-year-olds were the most rapidly declining.
"We made the clinical observation that older patients - people in their 50s, 60s and even 70s - were being injured on motorcycles with increasing frequency," Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement.
"We wanted to see if this observation was true on a national level and we found that it was."
The study, published in the journal American Surgeon, found that for riders aged over 40, the severity of their injuries, length of stay in the hospital or intensive care unit, and mortality were higher than riders aged under 40.
Researchers also found that the risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders over 40 based on the severity of the original injury.
Older riders were found to be more likely to die from less severe injuries than younger riders, to spend at least 24 hours in the intensive care unit, and to have more pre-existing health issues that led to longer hospital stays.
"Treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident -- 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them, and this can adversely impact outcomes following injury," said Gestring.
"As people start to dust off their motorcycles this spring, older riders should take an extra measure of caution; if an accident happens they'll often pay a higher price than younger riders."
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy