South Carolina is second only to Mississippi when it comes to fatality rates in motorcycle accidents. This speaks to the open green land so popular in our state, but in the end, it comes down to everyone being equally diligent while sharing the road with others.
Auger & Auger’s Greenville motorcycle accident attorney has seen driver inattention cause injury to unsuspecting motorcyclists time and time again. A rider can do everything in their power to stay safe, but if the operator of a car or truck isn’t accepting their own role of accountability, disaster can ensue.
Here are a few steps every vehicle driver should take to help decrease the number of collisions with motorcycles across South Carolina, and the rest of the country.
1. Stay aware and keep a lookout for 2 and 3-wheeled vehicles. A motorcycle is difficult to see when it is in your blind spot – in fact, one of the most common reasons vehicle drivers give for accidents with motorcycles is that they didn’t see the bike. Take a second to look over your shoulder every time you change lanes or turn.
2. Realize that a motorcycle may be much closer than it appears. If you are going to turn in front of or near a rider, make certain that you really do have enough room to navigate your turn safely for everyone.
3. Allow for a greater distance between your vehicle and a motorcycle than you would between yourself and another passenger vehicle. This extra room will give both of you the time to react to a hazardous situation.
4. Unlike your car, the turn signals on a motorcycle may not turn off automatically once the turn is complete. Don’t assume that the rider will be going in the direction of the signal, especially if you’ve noticed that it has been activated for quite some time.
Although there are many ways for a motorcycle crash to occur, there are some common types of accidents that we see often. We’ll look at how they happen and what can be done to prevent them.
Most of these involve a car or a larger vehicle making a left turn into the path of the motorcycle. As noted above, drivers who make left turns and collide with bikes typically say they never saw the motorcycle. Drivers of passenger vehicles should always look carefully before turning or pulling out of a driveway, but motorcyclists can help by wearing bright, reflective clothing and using their headlamps, especially in poor visibility situations.
Sometimes these occur because one of the drivers is intoxicated or drowsy, and doesn’t notice they’re crossing the center lane. But these crashes may also happen if something causes the motorcycle to skid or destabilize, such as debris in the road, ice or slick spots, or other hazards. Because of their size and 2 or 3-wheeled design, motorcycles can suffer a loss of stability quickly, and in some situations, the driver loses control and ends up in the oncoming lane. If you’re riding, always scan ahead for any road obstructions, so you have time to go around or at least slow down.
Another possible issue is passing on two-lane highways. It can be tempting to pass on the double-yellow, especially on a bike that’s small and maneuverable, but this can lead to a dangerous situation. Only pass where it’s indicated and you can clearly see that no one is coming from the other direction.
These are similar to left-turn accidents in that the vehicle driver often doesn’t see the motorcycle until it’s too late. This can happen with car drivers, but it’s an even bigger problem for those operating tractor-trailers or other large trucks. These larger vehicles already have a blind spot problem – that’s why many of them have signs that say things like, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” A good rule of thumb is to assume this is true even if there is no sign.
Use caution when passing large trucks. You don’t want to get caught on the side of the truck or in another blind spot for an extended period of time. Instead, wait until there is enough space in your lane to allow you to pass the truck very quickly. Never cut in front of a semi without allowing for several car lengths of space. Semi drivers sit high up and sometimes struggle to see cars that cut close in front of them. A motorcycle is even more likely to be missed. If you want to merge in front of a semi on your bike, get well ahead of it first so the driver can clearly see you.
Whether the motorcyclist or the driver of a passenger vehicle is speeding or both, speed increases the risk of injuries and death in an accident. However, the risks are more serious for motorcyclists, who are already more likely to be injured or killed in an accident due to the lack of seatbelts, airbags, and other safety features on a bike.
Unfortunately, you can’t control what others do on the road, but you can control your own speed. Obey the speed limits and always slow down in poor weather conditions, such as rain, sleet, snow, fog, or whenever there is reduced visibility.
We’ve all seen it happen: You’re sitting in congested traffic, wondering if this line of cars is ever going to move again, and then you hear the sound of a motorcycle zipping by in between the rows of vehicles. If you were on your bike, you might have been tempted to do the same, and maybe you did.
Unfortunately, lane splitting raises the risk of accidents. Car drivers aren’t expecting a motorcycle to be in between the lanes. They might look behind them and miss your bike if you’re further back and blend in with all the cars. Then the car driver pulls out, thinking they’re clear to switch lanes, just as you get closer.
Another problem is that the rows of vehicles are very close together in this situation, which means the margin of error shrinks. A miscalculation that you could easily correct in your own lane can lead to a collision between the lanes.
The best way to avoid this kind of crash is to not split lanes. It may take you a little longer to reach your destination, but at least you’ll arrive safely.
We know you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating: Don’t drink and ride. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that about 27 percent of motorcycle operators in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired. It’s better to take a ride-share home and collect your bike in the morning than get into a serious accident.
Overall, South Carolina has the tenth-highest number of drunk driving deaths in the nation. Drunk drivers are a threat to everyone, but motorcyclists are especially vulnerable. If you see a car driver swerving, struggling to stay between the lines, or exhibiting any other erratic behavior, slow down and stay as far away from them as possible. You can also pull over safely and call the local non-emergency police line to report the problem.
Sometimes motorcyclists simply lose control of their bikes. As mentioned earlier, debris or other road hazards can spell disaster for a biker. Unfortunately, it’s very common for motorcyclists to be thrown from their bikes in these situations. The biker may hit a tree, fence, guardrail, or another stationary object.
Is a single-vehicle crash always the motorcycle operator’s fault? Not necessarily. If it was caused by a mechanical failure or other problem with the bike, it’s possible you might have a claim against the motorcycle manufacturer or the producer of a faulty component. Occasionally there may also be issues caused by road construction or other external forces. If you were in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash, but know that you were driving safely, we recommend speaking with a Greenville motorcycle accident attorney. They can help you determine if another party might have contributed to your crash.
This is another version of the single-vehicle crash, but one in which there is another vehicle – it just doesn’t make contact with your bike. An example would be an aggressive driver who forces you off the road, leading to an accident, or any situation where acting to avoid another vehicle causes another type of collision.
If you’re forced to deal with an aggressive driver, here are some tips for handling the situation safely:
● The first way to attempt to de-escalate the situation is to allow the angry driver to pass, as they are often in a hurry. If possible, move into the right lane and slow down.
● Don’t stop or pull over, though – sometimes an aggressive driver will take that as an invitation to stop and continue harassing you face-to-face.
● If you’re on a two-lane road, look for another street to turn down. If the driver is simply in a hurry, they will keep going, and you can reconnect with your original route in a few minutes.
● If the aggressive driver is following you, don’t lead them to your home, workplace, or any regular stops. Instead, try to find a well-lit, busy public place to stop, then contact the police. Many aggressive drivers will think twice about continuing an altercation when there are witnesses and security cameras around.
● Never make eye contact with an aggressive driver, and definitely don’t respond with yelling or hand gestures. Engaging with them will only make them angrier. Instead, concentrate on your own driving and do your best to stay out of their way.
Although the other party may be at fault in a no-contact crash, it can be difficult to prove they were responsible for your accident. Adding to the problem, the other driver may not have stopped and the biker may not be able to identify them.
Does that mean you’re out of luck? Not necessarily, but you do need to act quickly to protect any evidence that exists in your case. Call a motorcycle accident lawyer immediately, so we can get to work gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and tracking down the other driver. If there is a way to prove your case, we’ll find it. We are here to answer your motorcycle accident questions and get you the compensation you deserver for your injuries.
No one wants to come across black ice, a deer in the headlights, a pothole, or random debris in the road. But these hazards pose far more danger to motorcyclists than people driving passenger vehicles. Even a small amount of debris, such as a scattering of gravel that would be barely noticeable to a car driver, can destabilize a motorcycle.
It’s always a good idea to scan the road ahead so you can spot hazards as soon as possible. If the temperature has been hovering around freezing and there has been any precipitation, remember that bridges and overpasses may freeze earlier than other stretches of road that retain heat from the ground.
As client testimonials demonstrate, our dedicated personal injury attorneys are strong advocates for victims’ rights. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle collision, you should have an attorney from Auger & Auger standing with you and fighting for a just and equitable resolution. We will consider all options for recovering damages and move mountains to ensure you are compensated fairly for your medical and other financial losses.
Don’t let your current financial difficulties prevent you from hiring the expert legal representation you need. Our zero-free guarantee is just one of the ways we serve our clients. You will not be charged for your consultation or during any step in your case. Our fees are deducted from your final compensation.
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