Spring is finally here, and this is the time of year when motorcycle enthusiasts come out in full force. There is no greater feeling than riding on the open road basking in the bright sunshine, powered by a cool breeze, and taking in all of the breathtaking scenic beauty the Palmetto State has to offer.
Yes, riding is one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable activities imaginable, but it is not without its hazards. This is why May has been designated as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in South Carolina and throughout the country.
Each year, thousands are killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured in motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle riding is inherently more dangerous than driving a motor vehicle. Riders have far less protection, and when they get into an accident, there are very few barriers to protect them from danger. As a result, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of other types of vehicles, and five times more likely to be injured.
To make matters worse, motorcycle-related deaths have been rising in recent years. According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of annual motorcycle accident fatalities has more than doubled over the past two decades. Many experts believe that the increased use of electronic devices while behind the wheel and similar forms of distracted driving are largely to blame for the sharp increase in motorcycle accident deaths.
In an effort to keep everyone safe through the heavy spring and summer riding months, the NHTSA has dubbed its 2019 campaign “Share the Road.” Safe driving and riding practices and cooperation on the part of all road users will help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on South Carolina’s roadways. And this starts with becoming more aware of the dangers, so both drivers and riders will stay safe as we share our roads.
- Always allow motorcyclists a full lane width, in other words, treat them the same as any other vehicle on the road.
- Adjust your rearview and sideview mirrors properly to ensure that your blind spot is minimized, and you can more easily see motorcyclists. Your rearview mirror should completely frame your back window, and your sideview mirrors should be pointed toward your blind spot.
- Always signal your intention when you are changing lanes or making a turn.
- Always look over your shoulder before changing lanes to make sure you didn’t miss a motorcycle or another vehicle that might have snuck into your blind spot.
- If you are turning into oncoming traffic and your view is partially obstructed, wait until you can see around the obstruction, so you do not miss a smaller figure like a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian that may be crossing.
- Allow extra following distance (about three or four seconds or so) to give motorcyclists more time to maneuver or stop if they encounter an emergency.
- Ride defensively and give other vehicles adequate space to make turns, complete lane changes, and react to emergencies.
- Always follow the state’s helmet laws. South Carolina requires all riders under the age of 21 to wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Highways and Public Transportation.
- Stay as visible as possible by keeping your lights on even during the day and wearing reflective and protective clothing.
For all Drivers and Riders
- Always follow the rules of the road and obey all traffic signals and street signs.
- Always be on the lookout for road hazards such as construction, debris, bumpy roads, and inclement weather that may cause a serious crash.
- Never drive or ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Stay focused and free of distractions while driving or riding.
It’s also important to point plan for inclement weather. Check the weather every time before you hit the road. It might be beautiful weather when you leave, but you don’t want to get caught under an overpass because of a rainstorm you could have avoided. If the weather is iffy, either reschedule your ride or plan accordingly. You might plan a route that has a convenient place for you to stop at if it rains or stay close to home. This also includes planning for extreme heat, which isn’t rare in South Carolina. Stay hydrated at all times and plan for frequent breaks so you can cool off.
Also, watch out for other motorcyclists. If you think the weather is perfect for a bike ride, lots of other motorcyclists will think the same thing. Be prepared for your ride to take longer or go a little slower than expected. Consider taking less popular routes if you want space to yourself or hit the road at off-peak times. When riding, make sure to leave plenty of other space for other motorcyclists—you never know which rider is new and will be spooked if you ride too closely.
Other tips include doing a thorough bike examination before your trip, which may mean taking your bike to a trusted garage for inspection. Also maximizing your visibility is important. While black leather might be your usual go-to, visibility should be one of your top priorities while you’re getting dressed for a ride. You want to be as visible as possible, since drivers are known to overlook riders and put them in danger. During the day, wear brightly colored riding gear that makes it impossible for drivers to miss you. At night, wear reflective clothing or add reflective patches to your daytime gear. Make sure your bike is fitted with reflectors and working lights.
Get Legal Help if Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
Even if we follow the traffic laws and best safety practices, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina, seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries, then contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
At Peake & Fowler, we are motorcycle enthusiasts ourselves, and we know how devastating injuries from a motorcycle crash can be. Our lawyers have in-depth experience and knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients to help ensure that they obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form. You may also stop by our Columbia, SC office at your convenience.