Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable motorists on South Carolina’s roads. Traveling without a cage of steel around them, or even a helmet in some cases, riders may feel liberated, but they’re also at risk for a serious motorcycle personal injury in the event of a crash. Other drivers’ indifference or even outright prejudice or hostility toward bikers increases their vulnerability. Drivers often report “not seeing” motorcycles that are right in front of them. Even if they do take the time to notice motorcycles, some drivers fail to respect motorcyclists’ equal right to use the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2014 that bikers were 27 times more likely to die in a vehicle crash than drivers of cars or trucks, and about five times more likely to be injured. It’s estimated that 8.6 million motorcycles were on the road during 2015. If you or a loved one regularly rides a motorcycle, wouldn’t you want others sharing the road to watch out for you?
Motorcycle Accidents by the Numbers, from the NHTSA
Risks Particular to Motorcyclists
While enjoying the road on a motorcycle may be exhilarating, risks that are unique to those on a motorcycle do exist:
- Reduced visibility while riding. Those driving cars are less likely to see motorcyclists. One of the reasons is that motorcycles are smaller and harder to see.
- No physical protection. If you’re on a motorcycle and you are hit, there is nothing to protect you from the vehicle that is striking you, or from the road’s surface on which you land.
- Road hazards. Things that are of little or no consequence to a passenger vehicle can throw a motorcyclist for a loop, such as road debris, wet pavement, uneven surfaces, road materials such as gravel or sand, and loose animals, especially dogs.
- Required skills. Riding a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car. Proper training is essential.
- Lack of stability. Two wheels are inherently less stable than four.
One last risk factor is so crucial we are calling it out separately: the most hazardous traffic scenario for motorcyclists is when cars are turning left. Such crashes between a motorcycle and passenger vehicle account for 42 percent of all such wrecks. Almost always, the vehicle that hits another during a left-turn situation will be the one found at fault. Most times, it is the passenger vehicle striking the motorcycle that causes the crash.
Crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles result in 56 percent of deaths for motorcyclists. Much of the time—78 percent—the car hits the motorcycle from the front, not the rear.
South Carolina Motorcycle Laws
It’s important to note that South Carolina requires those 20 and younger, whether they are an operator or a passenger, to wear an approved helmet. Additionally, those 20 and younger who operate a motorcycle must wear goggles or have a face shield attached to their helmet. Alternatively, they can use a windshield attached to the motorcycle’s front.
If you are operating a motorcycle in SC, you must have a license that legally enables you to do so.
The full list of motorcyclist laws is published online by the SCDMV.
The Tragedy of South Carolina Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accident fatalities have been on the increase in South Carolina in recent years, according to the most recent statistics from the SC Highway Patrol. In 2015, our state experienced 137 motorcycle fatalities, as opposed to 88 during 2014. That is more than a 50 percent increase in deaths from one year to the next. The upswing in motorcycle accident deaths in South Carolina runs counter to the general trend of fewer overall highway fatalities.
There are many factors driving the surging casualty rate among South Carolina motorcyclists. As we’ve mentioned, one of the main causes is not the motorcyclists, but rather other motorists on the road. The definitive report on the causes of motorcycle accidents, the Hurt Report, showed that about three-quarters of all motorcycle accidents are multi-vehicle accidents. Two-thirds of those accidents — half of all motorcycle accidents — are caused by the driver of the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right of way, often by turning left in front of an oncoming bike.
When other motorists fail to see motorcyclists or don’t take the care they should to avoid a crash, they’re failing in their legal duty to drive safely. When that failure causes a death or a serious, life-altering injury, it devastates the rider and his or her family. The negligent driver can and should be held legally liable for the rider’s injuries.
Many complex legal issues can arise in motorcycle accidents, even ones that don’t cause a serious injury. If you’re dealing with the fallout from a motorcycle wreck, you should speak with the experienced South Carolina motorcycle injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm.
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
At the Louthian Law Firm, our experienced accident attorneys have represented the rights of South Carolina motorcycle accident victims since 1959. We know that the time period following a serious crash is often a difficult, trying time. We can help you recover fair compensation for a serious motorcycle crash, including money to pay medical bills, repair costs, lost wages, and other financial expenses caused by the accident. We can also seek compensation for a serious injury or permanent disability as well as compensation for your pain and suffering. Because we know how financially devastating a motorcycle accident can be, we will not charge you a fee until your case is won.
For a free evaluation of your case, call the Columbia motorcycle accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200. You can also fill out our confidential online case evaluation form.