Motorcycle Fatality Risk is High in South Carolina

Motorcycle hit by car

2021 set a record for motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. Though that number dropped slightly in 2022, the decline was just over 1%–still more than twice as many deaths as in 2000, and 24% more than in 2010. Of course, these fatalities aren’t spread equally around the country.

The number of fatal motorcycle accidents in South Carolina is somewhat higher than the average, with 167 motorcyclist deaths in 2021. That’s about 3% of the total deaths across the nation. Seven states had more fatalities than South Carolina. Still, South Carolina was ranked the fourth most dangerous state for motorcyclists.

South Carolina’s Motorcycle Fatality Rate

In 2021, the motorcycle fatality rate in South Carolina was 11.2 deaths per 10,000 motorcycles. That’s more than one death per 1,000 motorcycles in the state, in a single year. The average across all states was 6.6 per 10,000 motorcycles, with 18 states having motorcycle fatality rates of less than 5 per 10,000 motorcycles.

Why is South Carolina More Dangerous for Motorcycles?

The 10 most dangerous states in terms of motorcycle fatality rates all have one thing in common: they all enjoy year-round warm weather, which allows motorcyclists to ride throughout most or all of the year. Many (though not all) of the states with fatality rates below 5 in 10,000 have winter weather.

In South Carolina, 40% of motorcycle fatalities involved alcohol, and 32% involved someone who was legally intoxicated. While those numbers are slightly higher than the national average, 18 states had a higher rate of alcohol involved motorcycle fatalities. So, while alcohol contributed to a significant percentage of motorcyclist deaths in South Carolina, it’s not the most significant reason the state is among the most dangerous for bikers.

South Carolina does not have a motorcycle helmet law for all riders. Only motorcyclists who are under 21 are required to wear helmets. 69% of motorcyclists around the country and a slightly higher percentage of passengers report wearing helmets. But, it’s been estimated that just 58% of motorcycle riders in South Carolina wear helmets.

Four of the five states with the highest motorcycle fatality death rates require helmets only for young riders. That’s not a surprise, since motorcycle helmets meeting DOT standards have been found to reduce the risk of death in a crash by more than 40%. In 2021, 62% of those killed in motorcycle crashes in South Carolina were not wearing helmets.

Avoiding Motorcycle Crash Fatalities

One of the most important things you can do to avoid being killed or seriously injured in a motorcycle accident is to wear a well-fitted helmet that is compliant with DOT standards. Other important precautions include:

  • Make sure you are visible on the road by wearing light or bright colors during the day and reflective clothing at night
  • Never riding a motorcycle after drinking alcohol or using any other substance that may slow cognition or hinder response time–not even prescribed medications
  • Only ride when you’re fresh and alert–drowsy driving is even more dangerous for a motorcyclist than the driver of a car
  • Make sure your motorcycle is well-maintained, and check lights, brakes, and tires before every ride
  • Keep a safe distance from cars and trucks, especially when passing
  • Never ride in the same line with a motor vehicle

The South Carolina motorcycle fatality rate is high, and that should make riders in the state all the more cautious. Following the suggestions above and other safe practices on the road can help protect you and your passengers. But, it’s critical that you always stay alert to other vehicles, and to other possible hazards such as potholes, gravel, debris in the road, or even grass clippings.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or have lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. To protect your rights, you should speak with an experienced Charleston motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.

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