Image of someone riding a motorcycle

Exploring our scenic mountains and secluded coastal roads here in the Palmetto state can be thrilling, but riding a motorcycle on South Carolina’s roadways is also risky. South Carolina had 116 motorcycle fatalities in 2020. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupants of passenger vehicles.

While motorcyclists cannot eliminate all risks, they can take steps to reduce the likelihood of accidents and improve their safety on the road. Master the following five essential skills to protect yourself and others on the road.

1.    Braking

Braking is essential for all motorcyclists to master to reduce their risk of an accident.  Effectively braking helps riders avoid collisions and navigate hazardous road conditions. Approximately one-third of motorcycle accidents are caused by losing control of the bike, including improper braking that causes a slide-out.

To brake effectively, riders should understand the mechanics of their braking system and how to use it properly. They should also regularly check their brakes for wear and tear and ensure they function correctly.

Practicing emergency braking techniques can improve riders’ reaction times in dangerous situations.

2.    Turning

Turning involves leaning the motorcycle while maintaining control of the steering and keeping traction on the road. Turning safely can be challenging for riders, especially in adverse weather or road conditions.

To turn safely, motorcyclists should understand the proper body positioning and technique required for different types of cornering, such as slow turns, U-turns, and sharp turns. They should also be aware of their speed and adjust it according to the curve of the road and traffic conditions.

Riders should use their eyes to scan the road ahead and anticipate potential hazards, such as gravel or debris on the road.

Practice and experience are crucial for improving turning skills. Regularly practicing turning in a safe, controlled environment, such as an empty parking lot or a designated training course can improve turning skills.

3.    Swerving and Avoiding Obstacles

Swerving and avoiding obstacles helps riders react quickly to unexpected hazards on the road and avoid accidents. Obstacles, such as debris, animals, or other vehicles, can suddenly appear in a motorcyclist’s path, making it necessary to swerve or change direction to avoid a collision.

Motorcyclists should maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles and be prepared to react quickly if necessary. It is generally accepted that riders need at least two seconds of distance between their bike and the vehicle ahead. This allows them to stop or swerve if the driver in front brakes suddenly or an obstacle appears on the road.

Motorcyclists in South Carolina can also benefit from practicing emergency avoidance maneuvers in a controlled environment. This can help them develop muscle memory and reflexes to react quickly and effectively in hazardous situations.

4.    Situational Awareness

Situational awareness involves being aware of your surroundings, including other vehicles, pedestrians, road conditions, and weather conditions, and being prepared to react quickly to changing situations. Responding to brake lights on the car in front of you, changing lanes to pass by a slow driver, and crossing an intersection at a green light are all examples of using situational awareness to navigate traffic safely.

To improve situational awareness, scan the road ahead and be aware of blind spots. Riders should always assume that other motor vehicles cannot see them and calibrate their riding practices to match. This might include double-checking traffic at an intersection or signaling a turn earlier.

5.    Handling Wet Roads

Wet roads can reduce traction, making it more difficult to control the motorcycle, especially when braking or turning. To handle wet roads safely, slow down and increase the following distance to allow for more reaction time. Also, avoid sudden movements and maintain a smooth, steady speed. Use gentle, gradual pressure on the brakes to prevent skidding.

Proper tire maintenance is also crucial for handling wet roads. Ensure tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends that tires have at least 2⁄32” and a cold tire pressure of 36 PSI for a solo rider. Worn or underinflated tires can reduce traction and increase the risk of accidents on wet roads.

Protect Yourself and Others on the Roads

At Joye Law Firm, we understand the unique challenges and risks motorcyclists face on South Carolina roads. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, our South Carolina motorcycle injury attorneys

can help. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Don’t wait to seek legal help. Contact Joye Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options. Together, we can hold negligent drivers accountable and ensure that South Carolina roads are safer for all.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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