The number of fatalities in motorcycle crashes in Florida is rising dramatically, particularly coming after the total number of motorcycle fatalities has declined for three straight years.
It seems, however, that there is a new group of Florida motorcycle riders who are losing their lives – middle-aged and older Baby Boomers who are climbing back into the saddle in their retirement years.
According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the number of people killed in motorcycles crashes in Florida by increased 18 percent statewide in 2011.
The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports that in Broward County, motorcycle deaths increased 80 percent, from 21 in 2010 to 38 last year. In Palm Beach County, however, motorcycle deaths declined from 23 to 19. Miami-Dade County saw a small jump from 30 to 35, an increase of 16 percent.
Motorcycle riders aged 55 to 64 accounted for 10.3 percent of motorcycle deaths between 2005 and 2007. Between 2009 and 2011, however, they made up 16.6 percent of all motorcycle fatalities.
Young riders aged 25 to 34, on the other hand, saw a decline in the proportion of deaths from 22.5 percent between 2005 and 2007 to 21.7 percent between 2009 and 2011.
And riders aged 35 to 44 went from 20.3 percent of motorcycle deaths to 16.2 percent.
A senior researcher at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation research told the Sun-Sentinel that motorcycle riding has become a popular hobby for Baby Boomers, which accounts for the demographic change in who is being injured and killed on motorcycles.
Bikers born between 1958 and 1967 accounted for 17.8 percent of all motorcycle deaths in the three-year period from 2005 to 2008. But in the subsequent three years, they accounted for 19.9 percent of motorcycle deaths.
Experts attribute this to a number of reasons:
- Rusty driving skills
- Unfamiliarity with motorcycles
- Faster new vehicles
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time