Motorcycle riders face many challenges on the road. Other cars may not see them, and stormy weather can make the roads slippery. Road hazards also present more danger to motorcycles than cars because of their decreased stability.

Most riders know that they can mitigate these dangers by changing their position within their lane. Other drivers, and even the police, often assume that riders use this maneuver recklessly. In truth, when drivers of larger vehicles get into crashes with motorcyclists, it is typically the driver of the passenger vehicle, not the biker, who is at fault.

Why Motorcyclists Change Lane Positions

South Carolina motorcycle laws allow motorcycles to use the whole lane. Motorcycle riders don’t change lane position to give cars room, or to show off. They change lane position for several safety-related reasons, which include:

Increasing their visibility

Even attentive drivers’ eyes can skip over a bike or forget one is there if they remain in one lane position. Movement naturally draws the eye, so when motorcycle riders shift back and forth in their lane, it helps other drivers to stay aware of them.

In congested traffic, rear-end collisions pose a significant threat to motorcycles. If you see one weaving across the lane, that rider is doing their best to maintain your attention, so you don’t hit them.

Avoiding blind spots

Periodically changing lane position ensures a motorcyclist doesn’t remain in any vehicle’s blind spot, reducing the likelihood of an accident. This allows other drivers to see motorcyclists sharing the highway with them.

Avoiding road hazards

When cars leak oil and other fluids, those spills can ‌happen in the middle of the lane. Liquid on the road can cause motorcycles to lose traction, posing a crash hazard. Other road hazards include potholes, cracks, and fallen debris from other vehicles. Any of these hazards present more danger to motorcycles than to other vehicles, and motorcycle riders may need to swerve around them when it could be safe for a larger, heavier vehicle to drive over them.

Minimizing wind and passing vehicle hazards

When riding in strong winds, motorcyclists must know the direction of the wind and adjust their position accordingly to avoid being pushed across the lane and colliding with other vehicles.

Motorcyclists can also be pushed by the wind coming off of passing vehicles going at high speeds. When a motorcycle rider sees a large oncoming vehicle, they might move to the right side of the lane to minimize the wind coming off that vehicle.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash

Do you or someone you love ride a motorcycle? Unfortunately, safe motorcyclist maneuvers cannot prevent all motorcycle accidents. According to the 2019 Traffic Collision Fact Book for South Carolina, the rate of motorcycle fatalities increased by 9.6% between 2018 and 2019 (the most recent years on record). Knowing what to do after a motorcycle wreck can help relieve the stress it can cause.

Document the scene

Before moving the vehicles, take pictures of the vehicles and any damage they may show, if it is safe to do so (It is fine to take photos after moving the vehicles if you are at risk of being struck by another vehicle by remaining on the road). Collect witness testimonies, if possible. Remember to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver so you can file a claim for compensation.

If anyone is injured, call 9-1-1 for emergency services. You can use the police report ‌the responding officer compiles to support your compensation claim later.

Get medical attention

Even if you feel okay immediately after the accident, see your doctor. The adrenaline and shock from the accident can mask symptoms of serious injuries, such as concussions and pain from broken bones. Other injuries may not be visible at all, including soft tissue injuries and internal bleeding.

Make sure you attend all medical appointments recommended by your doctor and follow your physician’s treatment plan. Hold onto records and medical bills associated with your treatment, since they can be used to prove your injuries and injury-related damages when filing your claim.

Hire a motorcycle accident attorney

A personal injury attorney with extensive experience in motorcycle crashes can establish and build your case using evidence such as your medical records, witness testimonies, and the police report.

They can also calculate fair compensation for your losses, reconstruct the accident to prove you were not at fault, and consult expert witnesses to speak to the seriousness of your injuries and the compensation or treatment you’ll need. If the insurance company refuses to pay the claim, your lawyer can take your case to court.

The South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you get the financial compensation you need to repair your physical, mental, and financial health.

Joye Law Firm Can Protect Your Rights

At Joye Law Firm, we understand that developing your judgment on lane positioning is part of honing your riding skills. We also support motorcyclists’ right to take up an entire lane to position themselves for better visibility, handle the road conditions, and stay out of blind spots. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence or failure to respect your right to the road, call our law firm for a complimentary consultation to discuss your situation and learn how we can defend your rights.

As proud partners with Paul Teutul Sr. of American Chopper and Orange County Choppers, we demand fair treatment of motorcyclists on the road and in the courtroom.

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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