Individuals who own and ride motorcycles often speak about the thrill they experience upon hitting the open road and feeling the wind against one’s body. Motorcycles are more popular than ever and while many may consider riding a motorcycle as a fun way to travel and take in the landscape, it is also inherently dangerous.

During 2010 alone, more than 4,500 people in the U.S. were killed in motorcycle accidents. With no airbags, steel frames or seat belts; if involved in a crash, a motorcyclist’s body is often the first point of contact. The resulting injuries are almost always serious in nature an often result in an individual suffering debilitating or fatal injuries.

Given the high stakes involved, it’s important that both motorcyclists and drivers of other motor vehicles understand how to avoid causing or being involved in a motorcycle accident. For motorcyclists and their passengers, wearing a helmet is one of the most important and effective steps one can take to protect against dying in a crash.

South Carolina has what’s known as a partial helmet law. This means that only drivers and passengers age 20 and younger are required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a motorcyclist or passenger is involved in an accident, helmets are credited with reducing the risk of injury by 37 and death by 69 percent.

In addition to ensuring one wears a helmet, motorcyclists are also advised to follow all applicable traffic laws and, much like any motor vehicle, to avoid operating a motorcycle after drinking alcohol. Motorcyclists would also be wise to remember that they aren’t always visible to other drivers and must therefore always be extra watchful and vigilant when encountering other motor vehicles.

In cases where an individual is injured or a loved one is killed in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to examine factors that contributed to an accident. In cases where the negligent acts of another driver are believed to have caused an accident, legal action may be taken to recover compensation related to medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: CDC, “Motorcycle Safety Guide: Overview,” 2015

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Motorcycle helmet use,” February 2016