South Carolina, like every other state, has laws that anyone who operates a motor vehicle must follow. Motorcycle operators must adhere to the rules which pertain specifically to them. They are also required to follow most laws that operators of cars have to follow. However, most car, truck, and taxi operators are unfamiliar with specific laws which pertain to their interactions with motorcycles on the road. Here are some specific rules motorists should know about sharing the road with motorcycles while driving.
Rights and Responsibilities of South Carolina Motorists
Under South Carolina laws, motorcycles are entitled to the same rights as any other vehicles on the road. However, there are specific rights a motorcycle owner has when traveling on the roads that a typical motorist may be unaware of.
Some of them include:
- Motorcycles and lanes – A motorcycle has the right to occupy a full lane, despite their smaller size. As a motor vehicle operator, you should be treating a motorcycle in a single lane the same as you would another car or truck. Depending on the state, the law also allows two motorcycles to travel side by side.
- Motorcycles and red lights – Many motorists are surprised to learn that in some states, the law doesn’t require them to remain stopped through the duration of a red light. The rule is that the motorcycle operator must stop at the intersection, wait a minimum of two minutes (120 seconds) and exercise due care when proceeding. Basically, a red light is treated as a stop sign for motorcyclists.
Sharing the Road With Motorcycle Operators
During a recent year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), South Carolina suffered the loss of 187 people in motorcycle accidents. Some of these losses could have been prevented if automobile drivers used more caution when sharing the road with a motorcycle.
Some laws which you should be aware of include:
- Right of way – Any vehicle operator who is approaching an intersection should be aware motorcycles always have the right of way. All operators should proceed with caution at any intersections where they may have to surrender the right of way to another vehicle. Running left in front of a motorcycle without having the right of way could result in a serious accident.
- Following too closely – Tailgating is a problem with all types of vehicles, but is even more deadly to motorcyclists. Unlike a car, if a motorcycle sees an obstruction in the road which could cause a problem, they usually have the flexibility to swerve out of the way. However, if you are traveling too closely, you could strike the motorcycle which could result in a serious injury.
- Be aware of blind spots – Everyone knows a motorcycle is much smaller than even a compact car. Before you consider changing lanes to move away from a vehicle in front of you, make sure you check and see if there is a motorcycle in the other lane. The same applies when making a turn at an intersection. Motorcycles can usually be heard, but it is always a good idea to scan the area for a motorcycle before making any turns including lane changes.
- Be aware of motorcycle season – While the milder weather in South Carolina means motorcycles may be found any time of the year, it is more common for motorcycles to come out in force between spring and fall. Always pay attention to motorcycles on the roadway to avoid collisions.
- Headlights and motorcycles – If you are using your high beams, always lower them when approaching a motorcycle. Because of their height, these lights will bother the operator more.
- Road hazard awareness – Always take care when traveling on grooved pavement, wet pavement, or gravel pavement. These conditions are more hazardous to motorcycle operators, and they may attempt to change lanes to get into a safer area.
South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Having an understanding of the different rules which pertain to motorcycle operators can help you avoid becoming part of the frightening statistics of motorcycle accidents in South Carolina.
The numbers are sobering:
- 597 fatal motorcycle collisions took place in a recent four-year period.
- More than 8,000 accidents involving motorcycles resulted in an injury.
Drivers should always remember accident statistics represent more than numbers. These statistics also represent people—fellow travelers who left their home for a pleasant drive, to run an errand, or to go to work.
Duty of Care on South Carolina Roadways
Negligence forms the basis of many motorcycle accident lawsuits. To prove negligence, the victim must show that the person who acted in a manner which resulted in a victim’s injury owed them a duty of care. In South Carolina, any person who operates a motor vehicle must exercise the same care as what a reasonable and prudent person would use if they were performing the same action.
This means the operator of a motor vehicle has a duty to pay attention to the roadway, traffic signals, and obey speed limits—and how their actions may affect others with whom they share the road.
Did You Suffer an Injury From a Motorist While You Were Operating Your Motorcycle?
When you are operating your motorcycle and are involved in an accident, there is very little chance you emerge from the accident unscathed. You should hold anyone responsible for your injury financially accountable. You should not have to bear the brunt of the costs associated with an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. After the accident has been reported, and you have received medical attention, contact a motorcycle accident attorney and schedule a free consultation.
Working with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer who has a proven track record of representing victims of motorcycle accidents allows you to focus on healing following an accident. It also helps ensure that you have someone who will advocate for your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Take the time you need to heal. But, before you run out of options or discuss your case with an insurance company, contact a motorcycle accident attorney for advice.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464