One of the largest motorcycle rallies of the year in the Southeast will take place this coming September 28 through October 4 on the South Carolina coast. It is the annual “Hurricane Alley” Rally, which is held every fall in Myrtle Beach.
The rally promises to be a fun event, bringing together those who are passionate about motorcycle riding – and, in particular, passionate about riding a Harley Davidson. Those who attend can enjoy food, music and exhibits. They can also see performances and demonstrations and share information about good rides, techniques and better ways to maintain their bikes. You can go to the Harley Davidson of Myrtle Beach website to learn more details.
As a law firm that is dedicated to serving those who are injured through no fault of their own in motorcycle accidents and other serious motor vehicle crashes, Jebaily Law Firm would like to welcome all of those who will come from out of state to the rally and wish them a fun and – above all – safe experience.
We think it would be helpful for visitors and South Carolina motorcyclists alike to review the following quick summary of their rights and duties under state law before the rally gets underway. (You can also check out S.C. Code §§ 56-5-3610 to 56-5-3700).
1. You have the same rights and duties as any other motor vehicle driver.
South Carolina law states that, as a motorcycle driver , you are “granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.” This is important in several respects.
This law gives you the right to share the road. Other motor vehicles must yield to you where you have the right of way, just as if you were driving an automobile or other motor vehicle. Also, you are allowed to have full use of any traffic lane.
Other vehicle drivers must also treat you with the same standard of care as they would any other vehicle driver. They cannot do anything to expose you to an unreasonable risk of harm such as tailgating or passing you illegally.
By that same token, the law means you have a duty to obey all the rules of the road. For instance, you have to follow posted speed limits. You have to stop at intersections where there is a red light or stop sign. You always have to signal your turns and yield where required.
Above all, you cannot drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. Of course, you should never drink and drive for the sake of protecting yourself and others from serious and potentially deadly harm. As the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) notes, during a recent year, riding while intoxicated was the leading cause of fatal motorcycle accidents in our state.
2. You must follow special rules on how you operate your motorcycle.
While you may be treated the same as any other motor vehicle driver, South Carolina law does require you to follow certain “special regulations.”
These regulations include the requirements that you must:
- Drive solo unless your motorcycle is designed to carry a passenger. In other words, the motorcycle must have a permanent seat to the side or rear of the operator, and it must have footrests for the passenger. Also, a passenger cannot ride in any way that would interfere with one’s ability to operate or control the bike.
- Face forward with one leg on each side of the motorcycle.
- Use a motorcycle that is equipped with a rearview mirror that gives you “ample vision” to the rear at all times.
Additionally, these regulations prohibit you from:
- Carrying a package, bundle or anything else that prevents you from being able to keep both hands on the handlebars.
- Trying to attach yourself or the motorcycle to another vehicle.
- Riding more than two motorcycles abreast in a single lane.
- Sharing a lane or going between lanes of traffic. (This is commonly called “lane-splitting.”)
3. You can ride without a helmet or goggles – unless you are under age 21.
You are not required by law to wear a helmet or eye protection such as goggles or a face shield when you are riding a motorcycle in South Carolina – unless you are age under age 21.
If you are in the age group that must wear a helmet, you must wear a helmet that is approved by the SCDPS, equipped with a neck or chin strap and has some type of reflecting material on both sides. You do not have to wear goggles or a face shield if your bike has a windscreen that meets SCDPS specifications.
These regulations are important to keep in mind as you peruse motorcycle gear that may be on sale at the Hurricane Alley Rally. In other words, if you are looking to buy a helmet, ask the vendor if the helmet meets SCDPS requirements.
Of course, our personal injury attorneys highly recommend that you wear eye protection and a helmet even though you may not be required to do so as a matter of law.
As the SCDPS reports, riders wearing helmets are 71 percent less likely to suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a crash. Also, wearing a helmet reduces one’s risk of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent, according to the SCDPS.
Remember that understanding your rights and duties will hopefully allow you to stay out of trouble and stay safe throughout the upcoming rally. If you have any legal needs that arise, however, please feel free to contact our firm to speak with an attorney.