Image of a motorcycle helmet and gloves

The open road, the wind in your hair, the thrill of acceleration – riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience that has captivated the hearts of countless enthusiasts. While the enjoyment of riding is undeniable, remembering to protect yourself from potential hazards on the road is critical.

Striking the right balance between style and safety is essential for every rider. Knowing what gear is required to wear can maximize your safety, help prevent accidents, and improve your riding experience.

Motorcycle Gear: What’s Legally Required in South Carolina?

Motorcycle safety in South Carolina isn’t just about hitting the road; it’s about following the rules that govern your gear. The state has laws regarding helmet and eye protection usage for motorcycle riders, including the following:

  • Helmets: According to Statute 56-5-3660, whether you are a motorcyclist or a passenger on a motorcycle, you must wear a helmet unless you are 21 or over. The law mandates wearing Department of Public Safety-approved helmets that adhere to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 requirements, including chin straps and reflectorized sides.
  • Eye protection: Statute 56-5-3670 requires riders under 21 to wear goggles or use a motorcycle with a face shield approved by the Department of Public Safety. This gear keeps your vision clear by blocking wind, debris, and insects, helping you react faster and avoid accidents.

Essential Gear to Keep You Safe on the Road

South Carolina only mandates using helmets and eye protection gear for riders under 21, but you should wear several other items to protect your safety on the road. The following are essential gear all motorcycle riders should wear to minimize the risk of injury when on the open road:

  • Helmets: Helmets shield your head from potential injuries and reduce the risk of fatal head trauma. Helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatalities for riders and 41% for passengers. They save the lives of roughly 1,800 motorcycle riders and passengers every year. Although they aren’t required by law, a helmet is an absolute must in order to protect yourself. Choose a DOT-approved helmet that carries the official label. This is a small white and black sticker, usually found on the back of the helmet. This label contains the manufacturer or brand, model designation, and FMVSS No. 18 certification.
  • Jackets and pants: Durable, armored jackets and pants safeguard your body from abrasions and impacts during the fall. Choose gear with protective inserts and abrasion-resistant materials like Kevlar, leather, and mesh for increased safety.
  • Gloves: High-quality gloves protect your hands from the elements, debris, and potential injuries during a fall. Look for gloves with proper grip and knuckle protection. Gauntlet gloves covering your wrist to your forearm provide maximum protection.
  • Footwear: Your feet and ankles need to be safeguarded from potential impacts and abrasions. Proper riding boots offer ankle support, protection, and grip on foot controls.
  • Reflective or high-visibility gear: Wear reflective or high-visibility gear, such as vests or jackets, especially in low-light conditions, to increase visibility and avoid accidents.

What Not to Wear on Your Motorcycle

The right motorcycle gear is essential for your protection. However, some motorcycle riders forego safety for convenience or style, especially in the warm summer months.

While you don’t need to be dressed in leather from head to toe, save the summer apparel for the beach and avoid wearing the following items to protect your safety:

  • Shorts: Riding in shorts exposes your legs to potential road rash and debris. In a fall, your skin is vulnerable to serious injuries.
  • Tank tops: Tank tops provide minimal protection for your upper body. They don’t shield you from wind, weather, or potential hazards, increasing the risk of injuries.
  • Flip-flops: Flip-flops lack the grip and coverage needed to operate your motorcycle safely. Similarly, open-toed shoes offer inadequate foot protection. They leave your feet exposed to heat, debris, and potential impacts if you need to put a foot down to catch yourself.

Expert Legal Support After a Motorcycle Accident

For more than a decade, the number of people injured and killed in motorcycle accidents has been increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,986 deaths in motorcycle crashes in 2012, which rose to 5,932 deaths by 2021. At Joye Law Firm, we care about motorcycle riders and want to help minimize injuries and fatalities resulting from these crashes.

Our South Carolina motorcycle crash lawyers encourage safe riding practices, such as wearing the right gear, to protect you if a collision occurs. However, if you are involved in an accident, we are ready to stand by your side and represent your interests in an accident claim or personal injury lawsuit.

We’ve won multiple settlements for accident victims and will use our legal skills and expertise to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your case and get started on your claim.

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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