Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Older riders 3x more likely to suffer serious injury than younger riders

It must be true, it's everywhere!!! 


This news item must be a REALLY BIG DEAL… Multiple writers and major media outlets generated "unique" articles based on this paper. (from a single metasearch: CBS/Jaslow, LATimes/Morin, USAToday/Painter, NYTimes/O'Connor, Philly.com/Preidt) 


The research paper this anti-motorcycle media blitz is based on is found in the Online First section of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Injury Prevention.  The BMJ website states: "Online First articles have been peer reviewed, accepted for publication, published online and indexed by PubMed; they have not yet been assigned to a journal issue. When an article is published in an issue it will be removed from this page." It is worth noting that there are articles dating back to November 2011 in the Online First listing, so there is no guarantee an article will eventually reach actual publication. 

The research article was "published" on BMJ Online First Feb 6, 2013.  The media articles began appearing the same day, with USAToday's scooping the rest online at 10:48 pm.  WOW, 5 different writers all posting essentially the same story nearly simultaneously… I shoulda bought a lottery ticket that day if that's a coincidence. 

One might wonder why a paper authored by a masters student, not yet formally published which describes what is probably an anomalous spike in the risk to such a small portion of the North American population (total active riders make up less than 5% in the US and only 1.5% in Ontario) should find such wide mainstream distribution. 

The REAL question is, does riding a motorcycle as we age present a greater serious injury risk than other normal activities?  Like getting in and out of bathtubs, climbing stairs/ladders, driving a car or having sex.  OF COURSE older people are many times more likely to be seriously injured than young people.  And yes, less experienced motorcyclists of any age fall down and get boo-boos.  If ya can't accept the risk, don't ride.  Or climb the stairs.  Or take a bath.  Or… you know… 

To contrast how the media handles "positive image" motorcycle stories… Research done in 2009 by Ryuta Kawashima (of Nintendo Brain Age fame) indicates current/daily riders show improved brain function over non-riders.  Not that the general public would know about a world-famous, tenured doctor's research… a similar internet meta search to the one that found 5 stories on Jackson's research showed not ONE major media outlet picked up the Kawashima story.  More HHHMMM…

And while Kawashima and Tohoku University openly disclose Yamaha Motor's sponsorship of the studies, Jackson and Brown University are not forthcoming about funding sources for their research.  Even more HHHMMM…

Are older/experienced motorcyclists underrepresented in other traffic statistics, elderly slip/fall injuries, general/mental aging health decline?  No one knows, because only research that shows "motorcycles are dangerous" gets non-motorcycle-industry-related funding and wide media coverage.  Given that motorcycle riders are only a few % of the general public, it should be no surprise that the corporate and political decision makers are not riders, nor hold positive attitudes towards riding. 

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) in the US does a survey every 5 years on non-rider attitudes towards motorcycling.  Results for several decades hold steady as follows:
Positive: 25%
Neutral: 33%
The "look on the bright side" MIC press release doesn't specify exactly what the remaining 42% represents, but the omission of a definition probably can be taken as "negative".  Any wonder that 75% of the public either actively dislikes or doesn't care about motorcycling when the corporate media blitzes the negative stories and ignores the positive? 

HHHMMM indeed! 

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