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Why is the motorcycle death rate skewing high for older riders?

When baby boomers were kids, the allure of motorcycles was more of a dream than a reality. At least that's the view of Beaulieu, operators of the National Motor Museum in England. What started as a workhorse vehicle in the 1920s only began to become a common form of transportation among young people in the 1950s and 60s.

Hollywood gets a lot of the credit for the growth in popularity at that time. While young people made up the lion's share of riders back then, these days, The Wall Street Journal reports that statistics indicate that a larger percentage of the riders are men and women aged 55 to 64. And as the age range of riders has skewed upward, the Journal says so has the death rate of those riders. That's true for Texas as well as other states.

Motorcycle fatalities among those in the 55 to 64 range were less than 3 percent in the early going of the 1990s. By 2002, the figure had jumped to more than 9 percent. In 2012, it hit 17.2 percent.

Why is this happening? Analysts say one reason is that there are more older Americans riding motorcycles. But they also suggest that these older riders are more vulnerable than younger ones. Their reflexes and sight are reduced and their bodies don't endure accidents as well as younger riders.

The experts do acknowledge that older riders may be safer drivers than their younger counterparts are -- wearing safety gear as recommended and being more cautious. But that doesn't help much if they get into a crash because of another driver's negligence. Too often, the drivers responsible for such accidents admit they just didn't see the motorcycle at the time.

Such statements are a poor excuse for accidents that cause so much devastation to riders and their families. Pursuit of due compensation may be the most practical way to hold those drivers accountable. Consulting an attorney is always recommended.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Uneasy Rider: Boomer Deaths in Motorcycle Crashes Rise," James R. Hagerty, Dec. 21, 2014

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