A part of this could be that there are just more older riders every year altho 26% is too big a jump to solely demographics. Maybe older riders are buying the newer more powerful bikes which seem to be driving up the death rates worldwide ?
Well, first of all, the fact that deaths increased by 26% among riders 50 and over might not mean much. If, for example, that means an increase of 50 deaths, or 200, or whatever, it does not tell you how much the use of bikes by people 50 and over increased in the same period. That is, ridership might have increased 50%, in which case a 26% increase in the absolute number of deaths is actually pretty good. I'd like to see a more detailed analysis.
However, I was at Laguna Seca, talking to some reps from a motorcycle company, while I looked at a 100HP bike that handles well, but that is often seen by bike mags as "not good or powerful enough" and I said to them that I thought the overwhelming majority of the bikers today has too much bike, that we usually don't get anywhere near the limits of our bikes. And they both said at the same time "Oh, we know that...". We discussed safety and they agreed that too often someone who either never rode a bike or rode a 175cc Honda 30 years ago, goes into a showroom and makes a totally crazy choice (GSXR1000, Hayyabusa, CBR954, etc.), which could easily get him killed, simply because at 50 that person now has the dough. Salespeople often do not discourage this enough. As an example, on my way up to Laguna Seca I left behind a pair of brand new Suzuki GSXR 750 (matching color, matching brand new one-piece leathers) and a brand new Honda CBR600 (still with dealer's plate) on the curvy Hwy 1, because their riders could not take a curve at a decent speed if their life depended on it (lots of panic braking, changing lines, etc.), and, in the case of the Honda looked positively unsafe. BTW, I am 52 (so don't think I am biased against older riders) and I ride a Nighthawk 750. I have been riding for quite a while, too.
I would encourage everyone who starts again in his middle age to buy a cheap used, not so powerful bike and re-learn the basics and not-so-basics, then you can buy whatever the heck you want. And, if you find out that biking is not for you, you re-sell the used bike with a minimal loss.
Nice to see the Feds recommending better state laws and stricter enforcement. Too bad the resources for doing so are actually declining. Here in Illinois, budget cuts have prompted the Secretary of State's office to cut back its licensing services from a leavel that was already a joke. I got my last four-year renewal by sending in a card. They sent back a sticker for the back of my license that says it's good for another four years beyond the expiration date on the front.
Motorcycle skills training is even worse. It's impossible to get a space in the state-sponsored MSF classes in the Chicago area unless you get online as soon as the schedules are posted. They were completely filled within 24 hours this year.
I see no commitment whatsoever to improving motorcycle safety in this state. MO is on the right track in recommending helmet use for those who have others depending on them. I'd go a step further and say your safety is completely up to you. Training, protective riding gear and even safe equipment are pretty much optional with current licensure requirements and lax to non-existent enforcement. You're on your own, so be sure you know and take action to contain the very real risks of motorcycling.
Thanks for the choice MO. This is the part where half say mind your own business and leave me to mine and the other half say your business is my business all the while wishing that they too had a life. I live in a choice state currently and I have expanded my sans helmet experiences lately in the interest of curiosity. I took a 50 mile interstate ride late one evening. I was wearing impact resistant sunglasses with "loop behind the ears" temples having learned that my natural head swiveling while riding quickly lost glasses without that feature. It was about 80 degrees and 11ish at night. I found that about 70mph was about all I could comfortably go, beyond that speed my eyes would water clouding my vision. It WAS a great feeling! I will continue to wear my full face helmet "99%" of the time but I can more easily undertand the desire of many not to and will continue to support their desire/right not to. Do I smell smoke?
I experienced the same thing on my ride in Lake Tahoe. We were heading back towards the lake after a day ride and were stuck behind two guys, one on a CBR929 and the other on a GSXR. They exhibited some of the worst riding skills I had ever seen. A guy on a Road King was all over them and they wouldn't move over. He finally passed and I came up behind them on my Duc and watched them panic brake and wobble all over the place. Finally there was a straight enough stretch to get around them without causing heart attacks for either one.
Of course once I caught Road King guy he wouldn't move over either (even though he was traveling at a pretty good clip) so there is something to be said for courtesy also.
I doubt many of the 50+ crowd is rushing out to buy sport bikes. Most of the older crowd are buying cruisers and on these bikes it's not COOL to wear a helmet. A skull cap usually keeps their hair from being messed up in the wind. Doesn't do much when your melon hits the pavement.
I've been riding for over 26 years and by far the worst handling bikes I've ever been on are cruisers. They have inferior brakes, handle poorly and the tires are crap as well. My Vmax needed some work before it was even enjoyable to ride daily. My CBR does all of these things so much better it's amazing.
My father-in-law's Harley's are the worst in my opinion. He has a lot of high end aftermarket parts and the bikes are still very scary to ride. The PM brakes are supposed to be an improvement over stock but I think they suck and the bike pulls to the side when applied hard. The goofy seating position doesn't help either. I can't imagine taking you hands off the handlebars on one of these bikes, you'd eat it immediately.
They should really adopt some sort of sliding scale system for motorcycle licensing. You start on a smaller bike and then over a period of time are allowed to buy more powerful machines. Right now, any MOron can and does go into a shop and buys whatever bike they want.
I agree with the posts referring to new or "born-again" bikers that ride bikes that are way beyond what they should choose. However, I live in Colorado - no helmet law - and based on what I've seen and accident reports I've read in the Denver Post, the same demographic has a tendency to kill themselves, (and often a passenger, too), by riding their Harley home from a bar, drunk. Of course, what my opinion is really based on is my own personal bias, but even though the Harley-charleys don't necessarily ride over their heads speed-wise, I sure see lots of new(ish) Harley's parked outside the local bars.
I'm a geezer myself - 56 - and I suppose my Aprillia Mille R and KTM Duke are over my head too, but I've been riding since '63 so I consider myself to be at least somewhat experienced (at least I've never killed myself - one accident in '84 when a guy turned left in front of me). That means 40 years of developing my narrow-minded perspectives regarding motorcycles.
How nice that everyone is assuming that the fatalities are a result of helmetless riding.
Too bad that data isn't shown. Actually I can't recall ever seeing a study that showed that fatalities for helmetless riders were the vast majority of fatalities. Plenty of idiots whack themselves fully helmeted, you know.
It'd be interesting to see exactly what is the proportion of helmetless fatalities. At this point it's simply conjecture, unless someone has some actual data. I do know that states that allow helmetless riding don't have any particular greater fatality rate that those that don't allow it.
Knowing the IIHS if such data existed they would be screaming it from the rooftop.
And don't flame me as if I'm recommending that peole don't wear helmets. I'd just like to see some scientific data. Everyone also assumed that fatalities would go up when the speed limits increased from 55 to 65. They didn't.
"Motorcycle skills training is even worse. It's impossible to get a space in the state-sponsored MSF classes in the Chicago area unless you get online as soon as the schedules are posted. They were completely filled within 24 hours this year." AMA should help sponsor these things. Or lobby for more.
The increase in deaths among riders age 50 and over was 140, from 532 in 2001 to 672 in 2002. Applying a chi-square test (I hope correctly) the difference is not statistically significant. If anyone out there really knows how to do these tests, please carry on.
That is why I posed it as a question. Maybe it is old boomers buying bigger bikes than the are capable of riding. I don't know. But the fact that the death rate is much higher for 50 year olds than it was last year is alarming right. I see too many weekend warriors, out of shape boomers, on large cruisers.
I Like the "buy a cheap used, not so powerful bike" idea. I came back after about 17 years without riding. I had about 40,000 mile of commuting behing me (I'm 46). I was at the stage of deciding between a mistress or a bike and decided that a bike was cheaper, more fun, and probably safer, so I found a 10 year old GS500 with 3400 miles on the click. Took me 2 days to find out I was still into bikes, but I went through MSF, and hung onto it for about a year and then moved to a VFR. With the trade in, I ended up spending $750 for a bike that first year. Because when I stopped I was riding a Honda Hawk 400 50 miles a day on the freeway, the VFR would have been prety scary to start up with.