Almost every year, South Carolina has one of the highest fatal motorcycle accident tallies in the country. In one recent year, the state tied with North Carolina for having the country’s tenth-highest total deadly motorcycle crashes (141), according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The good news was that South Carolina’s fatal motorcycle accident total had dropped 24.6 percent from the year before – a trend that will hopefully continue.
Given the potentially fatal head and brain injury risks that motorcyclists face, it would make sense if South Carolina required all riders to strap on a helmet before they hit the road. However, this is not the case. The law requires only a few riders to wear a helmet. Regardless, the best way motorcyclists in Rock Hill and surrounding areas can protect themselves is to wear a helmet at all times.
Is It Illegal to Ride a Motorcycle Without a Helmet in South Carolina?
South Carolina does not have a universal helmet law. In other words, not all riders and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. In the Palmetto State, only those under age 21 must wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. This law applies to both motorcycle operators and their passengers.
Even though the law does not require all riders and passengers to wear helmets, it is important that everyone straps on a helmet before getting onto a bike. A helmet is the best protection bikers and passengers have against injury in the case of an accident.
When bikers are in an accident and become injured, the at-fault party may try use the fact that they were not wearing a helmet against them. Under South Carolina’s comparative negligence laws, the compensation a biker receives after an accident could be reduced if their own negligence contributed to their injuries. With that said, if you are legally entitled to ride without a helmet, that right should be respected.
Some Key Facts About Motorcycle Helmets
Many studies have examined the use of motorcycle helmets. These studies continue to prove that it is safer to wear a helmet when on a bike. According to the website BikeAdvice, some of the most important motorcycle helmet facts everyone should know are:
- Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
- When a motorcyclist gets into an accident, a helmet will prevent fatalities and head injuries by 30 percent.
- When riders are not wearing a helmet, they are 40 percent more likely to be killed in an accident.
- Motorcyclists are 32 times more likely to be killed in an accident than a driver of a vehicle.
- After a motorcycle accident, hospital costs are three to four times higher when the motorcycle operator was not wearing a helmet.
Clearly, wearing a helmet is important. However, motorcyclists can protect themselves in a number of other ways as well.
Other Recommended Motorcycle Safety Gear
Here is a list of other safety gear bikers should try to wear at all times when they are on the streets and highways in and around Rock Hill:
- Gloves – If you have the misfortune of getting into a motorcycle accident, you will likely fall off your bike. When that happens, it’s a natural instinct to put out your hand to catch yourself and break the fall. If you are not wearing gloves, you will face a much higher risk of cuts, burns and other injuries.
- Jacket and pants – You should keep as much of your skin covered as possible when on a bike. If you fall off a bike, any exposed skin can rip, tear and get scratched and burned. These painful injuries can lead to infections. Proper biking jackets and pants will help to prevent these injuries from happening.
- Riding jeans – While proper biking pants are important, they are not always necessary when you are doing things like running out to the corner store. Riding jeans can help to keep you safe in these short-trip situations.
- Boots – As a biker, you have to balance and support the weight of the bike, which could be hundreds of pounds. You need to maintain this balance while going over uneven, broken and slippery roads. Boots can give your feet more support for these situations and allow you to better control your bike.
- Earplugs – The sounds you encounter on the road can be dangerously loud. Even when you wear your helmet, the air rushing through it at a highway speed can reach a possible 115 decibels or more. (Ear damage can occur at 85 decibels). No one should ever ride without wearing earplugs.
- Tinted visors – Many bikers choose to wear sunglasses while on their motorcycle. However, a pair of casual shades won’t completely block the sun’s glare. Riders should wear tinted visors during the day and clear visors at night.
- Foggers – Without proper protection, a visor will fog up, making it difficult to see the road ahead of you. However, you can place inserts on your visor so it doesn’t get foggy and allows you to see clearly.
- Scarves – Nights (and even some days) can become fairly cool in South Carolina. Wrapping a light scarf around your exposed neck will provide some insulation and keep you warm without interfering with your ride.
- Luggage – Anything that could injure you during a crash should be strapped onto your bike, not your back. If you have to carry something on your back such as a backpack, you should make sure it is lightweight and carries nothing that could injure you in the event of a crash.
All of this protective gear is essential and will keep you safe on your bike, and in case you get into an accident. After a crash, a lawyer will protect your rights.
Get Help from a Rock Hill Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, you are likely suffering from severe injuries that are not only painful but also costly to treat. You can claim compensation for your losses, but you should never try to file a claim on your own. Contact our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. We will help you to determine who was at fault for the crash and protect your rights at all times. Contact us today to learn more.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.