Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chart of the Day: Motorcycle Deaths by Age

The chart above shows the percentage of annual motorcycle deaths represented by the youngest age group (< 29 years) and the oldest group (> 50 years), according to annual data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the years 1975 to 2009.  In 1975, 80% of motorcycle fatalities were in the youngest age group and that percentage fell over time; only 3% of the deaths were in the older age group in 1975 and that share increased over time (see chart).  It's interesting to note that by 2009, the share of motorcycle deaths for the older group (31%) exceeded the share of deaths for the younger group (26%) for the first time ever.   

I assume these trends in motorcycle deaths reflect the popularity of motorcycles among the baby boom generation, who started driving motorcycles when they were younger and have continued to drive bikes as they age.  Meanwhile, if motorcycles have become less popular among young people in their 20s, the two demographic trends would explain why the share of motorcycle deaths represented by the 50+ age group is increasing, and was greater in 2009 than the younger age group's share of deaths.   


At 6/28/2011 9:11 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

When I was in my 20s, it seemed like the older generation had a lot more sense than mine.

Now, I am in the older generation, and it seems like the younger generation has more sense.

At 6/28/2011 9:27 PM, Blogger Tom McMahon said...

They're called donorcycles by the medical folks

At 6/29/2011 4:15 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

This post hit close to home.

Forty years ago, two friends from my childhood - Jerry Estaville and Alan McAlister - were motorcycling together on a highway in Louisiana. Jerry watched in horror as a car ran a stop sign and killed his best friend, Alan.

Twelve days ago, this past June 17th, Jerry Estaville was killed riding his motorcycle. A pickup truck ran a stop sign as it entered the Louisiana highway and moved into Jerry's path.

In both cases, the automobile drivers were at fault. In both cases, my friends, the motorcyclists, ended up dead.

I've been touched by both lines on your chart, Mark.

At 6/29/2011 7:51 AM, Blogger cynick86 said...

Maybe, it has to do with motorcycle helemt laws. The young guys grew up with them and comply. The older guys, not so much. Pesky laws.

At 6/29/2011 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How have the numbers of riders in the age groups changed? What about death risk per rider mile for the age groups? It is frustrating to have a partial story.

At 6/30/2011 1:09 AM, Blogger Ian Random said...

Bad news for people needing transplants, good news for Socialized Security actuaries.

At 6/30/2011 9:38 AM, Blogger Beloved Spear said...

I've been riding for about 25 years, and have seen this statistical trend pitched in bike mags. Much of the 50+ trend is re-entry riders...not the grizzled vets, but the inexperienced late-midlife-crisis riders who want to either recapture their youth or finally get that bike their ex wouldn't let 'em have.

At 7/01/2011 8:55 AM, Blogger JPLinFL said...

The bottom line is that motorcyclist demographics show that riders are getting older.

I've been riding bikes non-stop since the mid 70's. Go to any of the big rallies like Americade, Bike Week, or a national BMW rally. Most of the participants are over 50.

The younger folks just haven't taken to bikes as the previous generations. Same with camping, horses, stamp collecting, and many other pursuits.


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