South Carolina Traffic LawsPersonal Injuries
Whether you are a South Carolina resident or a visitor, we expect all drivers to follow the state’s traffic laws when driving. All drivers have a responsibility to abide by the state’s traffic laws. One of the most significant risks that drivers take is sharing the road with others. Even when you practice your due diligence and abide by the traffic laws, the drivers around you can act carelessly and potentially harm you, other motorists, and pedestrians.
How Traffic Accidents Happen
Even though traffic accidents in South Carolina continue to increase, car accidents happen the same way. A driver or pedestrian decides to engage in a reckless action that harms one or several parties. There are many reckless actions that drivers engage in that can be considered negligent in the eyes of the law.
Some everyday activities include:
- Aggressive driving. Drivers engage in aggressive driving when they intentionally violate a set of traffic laws that lead to the endangerment of other motorists and pedestrians. Some common forms of aggressive driving involve tailgating, cutting other drivers off, slamming brakes, and unsafely switching lanes.
- Failing to yield to other drivers and pedestrians. Specific traffic laws require drivers to yield the right of way. Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians attempting to cross an intersection, drivers who are already inside a roundabout, and when merging on highways. Drivers who are distracted or impatient are at risk of causing severe traffic accidents when failing to yield the right of way.
- Failing to obey traffic laws. Another form of aggressive driving involves intentionally ignoring traffic laws. Some common forms of ignoring traffic laws involve running a red light or a stop sign. Pedestrians, in particular, can be harmed by drivers who decide to run a stop sign or speed through a crosswalk.
Specific South Carolina Traffic Laws
Like every state, South Carolina contains traffic laws unique to the state. Below are some traffic laws that some out-of-state drivers may not know.
Move Right Law
The Move Right Law is a new traffic law passed in August of 2021. This new law requires drivers to only access the left lane of interstate highways when attempting to pass another vehicle. To help bring awareness to the new traffic law, the South Carolina Department of Transportation installed new signs indicating drivers to use the left lane for passing.
The signs also recommend that slower vehicles move to the right lane. Some of the exceptions involve weather that makes following in the left lane safer, when no vehicles trail you in the left lane, and when hazards exist in the right lane.
Work Zone Law
A work zone law is a traffic law that requires drivers to operate their vehicles safely when traveling through a work zone in South Carolina. When approaching a work zone, drivers must reduce their speed and practice extra precautions when driving through work zones during the nighttime.
Other actions that drivers must perform can include:
- Adjusting the lane position to allow additional space for upcoming drivers.
- Using alternate routes.
- Follow these actions until drivers encounter an End Road Work sign.
Drivers who fail to follow these traffic laws are subject to heavy fines.
Move Over Law
The move over traffic law is beneficial to law enforcement and emergency vehicles whose drivers are at risk of being struck by drivers flying on the highways. To reduce the chances of these accidents, all drivers are required to switch lanes and slow down when approaching law enforcement and emergency vehicles.
Drivers who are close to passing a stopped emergency or law enforcement vehicle must either slow down or safely switch into another lane farther from the stopped vehicle. If it is not safe to change lanes, slowing down and proceeding with caution is fine.
School Bus Law
Another common traffic law in South Carolina is the school bus law, which requires drivers within six feet of a school bus to stop or prepare to stop for the entire time a school bus is dropping children off. Drivers traveling on two-way or four-way roads must stop when a school bus stops completely. When the stop sign or the bus’s red lights are no longer visible, drivers following or traveling in opposite directions must proceed with caution and remain on the lookout for all children trying to cross.
Steer It or Clear It Law
Another unique traffic law that South Carolina has passed is the Steer It or Clear It Law. This law requires drivers operating disabled or damaged vehicles to move the vehicles out of the direction of traffic. Drivers must do everything they can to move their cars safely out of the road to avoid disrupting traffic flow.
This law applies to drivers who have recently been in a traffic accident. Drivers who attempt to move their vehicles out of the flow of traffic before law enforcement arrives will not be held liable for the traffic accident for moving their vehicles. If it is safe to do, take photos and videos of the accident prior to moving the vehicles.
Golf Cart Law
One of the most interesting traffic laws South Carolina has on the books is the Golf Cart law.
Drivers may operate golf carts on the streets in certain conditions:
- Operating the golf cart within daylight hours only
- Driving a golf cart within four miles of the driver’s home
- Driving the golf cart on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less
- Being at least 16 years old and possessing a valid driver’s license to operate a golf cart
- Ensuring that the golf cart is insured and registered with the South Carolina DMV
Like the golf cart law, South Carolina requires drivers of mopeds to insure and register their mopeds. Although moped drivers do not need to carry insurance, they must contain license plates on their mopeds. Drivers must also be at least 15 years old to drive mopeds and wear a helmet.
Mopeds are a great way to get around many crowded South Carolina towns, especially when it is difficult to park during peak tourist season. However, you need to make sure you follow the law governing mopeds or risk getting a ticket from an officer.
Common Traffic Law Violations in South Carolina
Some of the typical traffic law violations that take place in South Carolina include:
- Hit-and-run accidents. Drivers involved in traffic accidents are legally required to stop, exchange information, and provide any assistance if possible. Drivers who fail to stop after colliding with another driver or pedestrian have committed the grave offense of a hit-and-run accident. Drivers who commit these offenses can face serious consequences.
- Driving on a suspended license. Drivers who engage in dangerous actions are at risk of collecting points on their driving record and having their license suspended. Drivers can suffer severe consequences when they decide to continue to drive on a suspended license.
- Vehicular assault. Drivers commit vehicular assault when they seriously injure another motorist or pedestrian while operating a motor vehicle.
- Speeding. Speeding is one of the main traffic law violations that increases the chances of a traffic accident. When drivers deliberately travel at a dangerous speed on the roadways, they lessen their chances of safely reacting to any surprises on the road.
- Texting while driving. South Carolina has banned texting while driving, which is becoming a greater cause of accidents as more drivers use cellphones while driving.
Legal Duties of Drivers
When drivers engage in dangerous behaviors that result in a traffic accident, they have committed an act of negligence against the injured parties. Drivers have legal responsibilities they must follow when operating motor vehicles.
Some of these legal responsibilities for South Carolina drivers include:
- Driving at a safe speed. Drivers must drive at a reasonable speed. Even the speed limit is the maximum speed that drivers can travel under the right circumstances. Drivers must consider the appropriately safe speed.
- Maintaining control of the vehicle. Having proper control of a vehicle means being capable of responding to any changes on the roadway in a safe manner. If drivers need to stop quickly, they should be ready to do so instead of reacting slowly due to being drunk or tired.
- Maintaining the vehicle. When a vehicle’s parts wear down from constant driving, drivers can leave themselves open to liability for traffic accidents from a mechanical failure.
- Remaining alert of all surroundings. Another critical legal duty that drivers must exercise is remaining alert and aware of their surroundings. The remaining alert includes looking out for pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers, and road hazards. Drivers need to be mindful of their surroundings, like poor weather environments or work zone areas. Failing to do so can cause drivers to become liable for any injuries created from a traffic accident.
Compensation for South Carolina Car Accidents
If you have suffered an injury due to another driver’s breach of duty, you are entitled to make a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance and file a lawsuit against that driver for compensation, if necessary. Seeking compensation for your injuries is not only your legal right; it is often necessary to cover the financial stress you will endure. Your accident will cost you in ways that you may not predict.
Some of the forms of compensation that you are entitled to pursue through your lawsuit for a South Carolina car accident include:
- Economic damages. Economic damages are the damages that a specific dollar amount can measure. These expenses include medical bills, lost income, and property damage if your car was significantly damaged. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you measure the different amounts of compensation that you want to sue for.
- Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are damages that a particular dollar amount cannot count. These damages can include injuries that can impact your life more subconsciously. Some examples of non-economic damages include the loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and damages that have inconvenienced you in other ways.
Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney Today
Even though car accidents are more common today, it is not okay to miss out on the compensation you and your family deserve. If you or a loved one have suffered severe or fatal injuries from a car accident, you need an experienced car accident attorney by your side. Never try to go it alone—it is often a bad idea. Call a South Carolina car accident attorney like those at Hughey Law Firm, or submit a contact form online to speak to a passionate car accident attorney about your case today.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.