driving laws in South Carolina

In the state of South Carolina, driving is a privilege that the state bestows upon its citizens. In order to be eligible, potential drivers are required to prove their skills through both written and in-vehicle tests before receiving a license. Unfortunately, these tests do not ensure that drivers will be, or stay, masters of South Carolina driving laws. Further, serious – or even deadly – car accidents can occur if drivers purposefully or accidentally break traffic laws.

South Carolina Driving Laws You Need To Know

Being familiar with South Carolina’s many driving-related laws before getting behind the wheel is extremely important. Those who follow traffic laws, of course, make much safer drivers than those who break the “rules of the road” due to ignorance, being distracted, being in a rush, or whatever the reason may be. Whether you’ve been driving in South Carolina for a long time or just recently got your SC license, it is important to refresh yourself on these basic rules:

  • Just because you were “waved” onto a roadway or lane of travel does not mean you are given the legal right of way. In some instances where you may not have the right of way to accomplish a maneuver, such as switching lanes, another driver may give you a hand signal indicating that they are making room or letting you go ahead. Even in these instances, if you end up getting in an accident with another driver, you most likely would still be considered at fault for not yielding to the legal right of way.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory in South Carolina. No matter where you are in South Carolina, wearing a seatbelt is required, and for good reason: Seatbelts save lives. Whether you are in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Clinton, Columbia, or anywhere in between, drivers can drastically reduce the chances that they or their passengers will suffer serious injuries in an accident by simply wearing their seatbelts. Wearing a seatbelt, and requiring passengers to do so as well, can also protect drivers from traffic fines and fees.
  • Drinking alcohol is prohibited for anyone inside a moving vehicle. Many people are under the misconception that it is only illegal for the driver of a vehicle to drink alcohol. In reality, it is illegal for both passengers and drivers to drink while inside a moving car. This is meant to protect drivers from passengers becoming intoxicated or disruptive, something that could possibly lead to a crash.
  • If your windshield wipers are on, your headlights must be on as well. Even if you are only turning on your wipers to clear a light mist, you are also legally required to turn on your headlights. This law is intended to protect drivers from auto accidents in low visibility conditions by making it easier to see other vehicles.
  • You must turn on your turn signal (or make an appropriate hand signal) before you reach your turn. Some drivers do not use their turn signals at all, and others only turn on their signals when they have reached the place where they intend to turn. According to South Carolina law, however, it is mandatory that drivers make a signal 100 feet before their actual turn. This is meant to give other drivers on the roads enough time to react or adjust around the turning driver.
  • Bicyclists have just as many rights on the roads as motorists. Keep in mind that on South Carolina roads, bicyclists have equal right to make use of the roadway as vehicle drivers. In keeping with these equal rights, bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as everyone else on the roads.
  • All distracted driving is a bad idea, even if it is not illegal. There are no South Carolina traffic laws that prohibit a driver from activities such as listening to music through headphones while driving. However, just because you are not legally prohibited from doing so does not mean you should. Things like listening to music through headphones or ear buds can be distracting and can increase the odds of you causing an accident with another vehicle as they make you less aware of your surroundings. Thus, even though a distracting activity may be legal while driving, being distracted while behind the wheel is always a bad idea and can be very dangerous. Other forms of distracted driving –  such as texting and/ or watching a movie or television show on a device while the vehicle is moving – are against the law and can lead to terrible accidents, fines and fees, as well as civil liability for any injuries or damage that may result from a collision.
  • Whenever you are leaving a parking lot and entering a roadway, you must stop and yield to those on the roadway. Even if the parking lot does not have a stop sign posted where the parking lot meets the roadway, drivers are always required to stop. They must also yield the right of way to any to any drivers that are on the roadway before joining traffic themselves.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash in Myrtle Beach, Clinton, Columbia, Charleston, or elsewhere in South Carolina, contact the Joye Law Firm by phone or through our website as soon as possible. We will help you recover the compensation you deserve for any injuries caused by the reckless actions of an unsafe driver who failed to follow the state’s traffic laws.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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