Now that summer is here, more people are riding motorcycles on roads across South Carolina. The state has many motorcycle enthusiasts. But having more motorcycles on the road also means a greater risk of accidents.

Each year in South Carolina, around 100 bikers are killed in traffic accidents and hundreds more suffer severe injuries. Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to have a deadly accident than occupants of cars due to the high vulnerability and low visibility of motorcycles.

It’s important for car drivers and motorcyclists to make every effort to safely share the road to prevent accidents. Here are seven easy ways drivers can make traffic safer for motorcyclists:

  1. Be sure to allow motorcyclists a full lane width. Even though it might look like a single lane has enough room for a car and a motorcycle, looks can be deceiving. Do not share the lane. Motorcyclists need room to maneuver safely and often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles and wind.
  2. Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, they can be easily hidden in a blind spot. Always look for motorcycles by checking your mirrors and blind spots before switching to another lane of traffic or turning at intersections.
  3. Always use your turn signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate your movement and find a safe lane position. Motorcycles are often more maneuverable, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to get out of the way in time.
  4. If the turn signal is flashing on a motorcycle, wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed. Many motorcycles don’t have self-canceling turn signals, and the rider may have forgotten to turn it off.
  5. When following a motorcycle, allow more following distance — 3 or 4 seconds — to give the motorcycle rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Motorcyclists may need to suddenly change speed or adjust lane position to avoid hazards. Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which doesn’t activate the brake light as a signal to other drivers. When approaching an intersection, drivers should assume a motorcyclist may slow down without that visual warning.
  6. Because of its size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It can also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into or out of a driveway, drivers should take into consideration that a motorcycle may be closer than it looks.
  7. Follow all the rules of the road, including avoiding distractions such as using a cellphone. Remember that motorcyclists have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other motorist. Try to see more than the motorcycle on the road — see the person on the motorcycle, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative.
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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