Columbia, S.C., May 18, 2012 — South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer Bert Louthian said May’s National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a good time to raise awareness among Palmetto State motorists that motorcycles have the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the road.
“Too often, drivers don’t pay enough attention to the motorcycle on the road with them – or else they fail to respect the bike’s presence – and the result is a wreck that can be catastrophic for the motorcycle rider and, in many cases, their passenger,” Louthian said.
“Motorcycle safety is a two-way street. Motorcyclists should wear helmets at all times and practice defensive driving. This month, we also need to make sure that car, bus and truck drivers know that they have a duty as well. They must share the road responsibly with their two-wheeled counterparts..
Louthian pointed out that motorcyclist fatalities increased nationwide in 2010 to 4,502, which was 14 percent of total highway fatalities for the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The increase in fatalities renewed a 13-year trend that had been interrupted by a one-year decline in fatal motorcycle accidents in 2009.
In South Carolina, the numbers have turned grim as well. According to the S.C. Department of Public Safety, 102 motorcycle riders died on state roads in 2011, marking an increase from 82 the year before. So far in 2012, there have been 36 motorcyclist traffic deaths, the SCDPS says.
“Because a motorcyclist lacks protection and is significantly outweighed by the other vehicle, the motorcycle rider can suffer severe injuries in a collision, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, serious scarring or – in the worst cases – death,” Louthian said. “That’s why it’s so important for other drivers to be on alert when motorcycles are present on the road..
Louthian says motor vehicle drivers can help to improve motorcycle safety by taking steps that include:
- Checking their rearview mirrors and blind spots when they know a motorcycle is nearby. This can avoid accidents caused by a driver making a left turn in front of the motorcycle, Louthian said.
- Leaving extra travel distance behind a motorcycle. This can avoid rear-end collisions, the Columbia personal injury attorney said. Often, a motorcyclist may need to stop quickly or change direction because of potholes, puddles, ice or other obstructions, he noted. He suggested a cushion of 3-4 seconds.
- Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. For the same reason a car driver wouldn’t share a lane with another car, they shouldn’t do so with a motorcycle, Louthian said. The motorcycle should be treated as another vehicle at all times.
When motorcyclists are injured in a collision that is caused by another driver, it’s important for them to contact an experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney, Louthian added.
Too often, he said, the insurance company for the other driver will try to put blame for the accident on the motorcyclist or contend that the motorcycle rider’s injuries could have been lessened if they had been safer. The insurer is simply out to minimize its losses, he said.
“The bottom line is that when other motorists fail to see bikers or don’t take the care they should to avoid a crash, they have failed their duty,” Louthian said. “They need to be held accountable, and the victims of their negligence need to be fully and fairly compensated..