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Number of motorcycles on state roads climb with temperature

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By Denyse Clark

Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous in many ways for the cyclist and passenger alike, said S.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Jeff Gaskin. 

The level of danger in creases each spring due to the rising number of motorcyclists on roads.

That’s an issue all motorists, not just motorcyclists, need to be aware of, Gaskin said.

Fatality rates are high for motorcycle collisions, but the number of injuries sustained in these accidents range in the thousands.

“Since 2008 in the state of South Carolina, 618 motorcyclists have been killed and over 10,000 injured,” said Gaskin. “Motorists should be aware that with the warmer weather, there will be an increase in motorcycle traffic.”

Gaskin urges all motorists to obey traffic laws and practice safe driving methods to avoid becoming a fatal statistic.

“Our goal and mission is simple,” he said. “It’s to reduce all collisions, including motorcycle collisions, and to raise motorcycle awareness.”

Motorcyclists, like pedestrians, are considered to be “vulnerable motorists,” by the SCHP meaning the likelihood of serious injury or death greatly increases when it involves a motorcycle, Gaskin said. 

“Motorcyclists can do their part as well,” he said. “Contrary to most people’s perception, motorcyclists contribute to a large percentage of the collisions they’re involved in.”

One of the main factors in motorcycle accidents is driver inexperience, Gaskin said.

“Its easy to purchase a motorcycle, but learning to ride it proficiently is more difficult,” he said. 

“Inexperienced riders can’t brake a motorcycle properly in the event they have to take evasive actions such as animals, other vehicles or potholes in the road.”

Gaskin said many motorcyclists incorrectly assume they are capable to handle the cycle they ride.

“They have unrealistic expectations of their own abilities,” he said. “Another factor is riding with an additional passenger. These factors combined with inexperience all too often prove to be deadly.”

Per state law, any motorcycle rider under age 21 must wear a helmet, Gaskin said, but other protection gear such as gloves and boots also prove beneficial as well.

Other advice Gaskin gives to inexperienced riders is to invest in a motorcycle safety class. 

Cox’s Harley-Davidson, 1178 Galleria Blvd., Rock Hill, offers motorcycle safety courses with instructors certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Harley-Davidson, said Academy Riding Manager Archie Laney.

“We have classes for new riders as well as skilled riders,” he said. “If you’ve never ridden a bike before or only as a passenger, we'll teach you to ride.”

The cost of the New Rider Course (NRC) is $325 and the Skilled Rider Course (SRC) is $125.

The four-day new rider course is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Mondays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

The one-day skilled rider course is Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To participate in the new rider course, requirements include a valid motorcycle learner’s permit, an S.C. Department of Transportation approved helmet, protective eye-wear, a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, full-fingered gloves, blue jeans and over-the-ankle boots, Laney said.

“We provide the motorcycle for the new riders' course and skilled riders ride their own bikes,” he said. 

After successful completion of the new rider course, which includes a written test, riders are issued a waiver to take to a S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles office and get a motorcycle endorsement placed on their S.C. driver's license, Laney said. 

Skilled riders can also receive this endorsement, if needed.

For details, call Laney at (803) 327-1183.

Gaskin urged new and experienced riders to take advantage of these courses and had one final word of advice for all motorcyclists.

“One big piece of advice I give is always ride like you’re invisible,” he said. “Never assume the other vehicle sees you.”

 

Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152