South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In 2021, 166 people died in South Carolina motorcycle accidents, a 43% increase from 2020. For every 10,000 motorcycles registered in the state, 11.2 people have died in an accident. Motorcycles are the most dangerous form of transportation, resulting in many laws being created to help prevent motorcycle accidents, such as the South Carolina motorcycle helmet laws. Our Myrtle Beach motorcycle accident attorneys at Maguire Law Firm can help you navigate South Carolina law and explain why you should wear a helmet even if the law does not apply to you.

Does South Carolina Have a Motorcycle Helmet Law?

Nearly every state in the U.S. has some form of motorcycle helmet law, including South Carolina. Only three states, Illinois, New Hampshire and Iowa, have no helmet requirement. Although states like California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon require riders to wear helmets at all times, no matter their age, South Carolina is one of many that requires helmets to be worn by a limited group based upon age.

What Is the South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Law?

Whether you are a motorcycle operator or a passenger, if you are under the age of 21, you must wear a helmet according to South Carolina law. If you are over 21, however, you do not have to wear a helmet.

In addition to the helmet requirement, the state has specific guidelines on what type of helmet and body protection you must wear if you are under 21. For example, your helmet should have reflectors or reflective material on both sides. It also needs some form of chin strap to secure it to your head. You must wear a face shield or goggles unless your motorcycle has an approved windscreen.

The Department of Public Safety has a list of approved helmets, goggles, face shields and windscreens. In the state of South Carolina, you are not permitted to sell or otherwise distribute protective equipment to those under 21 that does not meet the specifications outlined by the Department of Public Safety or that is not on the approved list.

The state of South Carolina recommends that all riders and passengers on two-wheel vehicles wear helmets, regardless of their age. If you are over 21, you can wear any helmet and protective equipment you choose, whether they meet the Department of Public Safety requirements or not.

What Does the Opposition to the Motorcycle Helmet Law in South Carolina Say?

Despite the reduction in motorcycle accidents, serious injuries and death since its passing, some individuals still oppose the South Carolina motorcycle helmet law. Bikers argue that their helmets impact their ability to hear on the road. Helmets also restrict the rider’s field of vision, particularly their peripheral vision, preventing them from seeing any oncoming danger from their sides.

Motorcycle operators cannot easily hear road traffic, horns and other important sounds that could keep them safer.

They also argue that the helmet’s weight increases the risk of neck injuries during incidents because it pulls the rider’s head in the direction of the crash’s inertia. Many also argue that helmets do not prevent death and serious injuries in life-threatening incidents because they only protect the head, not other areas of the body that could potentially receive serious damage.

Bikers have also complained that helmet laws suggest that riding a motorcycle is much more dangerous than it is. In addition, they only give an impression of safety, rather than providing true safety, encouraging riskier behavior than the rider, particularly those without experience, would normally participate in.

Individuals see helmet laws as government overreach and violations of personal rights. They see the current motorcycle helmet law in South Carolina as a barrier to the joys of riding. Some do concede that inexperienced riders should wear helmets, but as they gain experience, these particular riders do not see a need to continue wearing them.

Why Should You Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?

The primary reason you should wear a motorcycle helmet is, of course, for safety. By simply wearing the right helmet, you can reduce the risk of head injuries and death by 69% and 42%, respectively. Despite the opponents’ arguments that helmets can cause greater injuries, wearing a helmet can prevent serious head injuries and potentially save your life. Helmets also protect your face, eyes and teeth from debris and impact from the roadway or other vehicles.

Helmets with face shields also protect your eyes from wind and road debris and reduce wind noise, allowing for improved vision and hearing on the road. Because they keep the weather out, they increase your safety if you have to drive in inclement weather. They also prevent sunburn and keep your head warm on cold days.

Due to the reflective material requirements in the South Carolina motorcycle helmet law, other drivers can see you better when you wear a helmet properly. In addition, you set a good example by wearing a helmet for those who may be less experienced or younger than you.

It is important to note that each state has different helmet laws, so if you plan to ride to a different state, you should familiarize yourself with their specific laws beforehand in order to avoid unfavorable legal action against you.

What Are the Penalties for Breaking South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

Violating the motorcycle helmet law in South Carolina is a misdemeanor. If you are not 21 or older and get caught riding a motorcycle without a helmet, you could face up to 30 days in jail and a $100 or greater fine if convicted.

Are There Any New South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws Under Consideration?

The South Carolina government has yet to introduce any new motorcycle helmet laws for consideration. The current law has been in effect for over 40 years, and most seem content with it.

However, the state is responsible for tracking and evaluating motor vehicle crashes and injuries, taking increases in these incidents and fatalities seriously. They also follow the severity of the incident and compare it to whether the rider wore a helmet. If these incidents increase and the state can draw a clear line between lack of helmet use and injury seriousness or death, the representatives may revisit the South Carolina motorcycle helmet law.

Can Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Impact Your Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?

The short answer to this question is maybe. If you get injured in a motorcycle accident and you rode without a helmet, insurance companies may try to shift some of the blame for the severity of your injuries off of the individual who caused the incident. The insurance company or attorney of the individual at fault for the accident may suggest that you were negligent because you did not wear a helmet.

Fortunately, if you are over 21, the South Carolina motorcycle helmet law does not apply to you, and you can fight for compensation if you do not wear a helmet. However, if you sue for damages, the comparative negligence doctrine also suggests that if your injuries could have been 50% less severe if you had worn a helmet, you may not receive compensation or enough compensation to cover your injuries. The defendant must prove that some or all of your injuries resulted from your lack of a helmet.

Contact Our Myrtle Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today

If you are over the age of 21, you have a right to choose whether you wear a helmet according to the South Carolina motorcycle helmet law. If you become involved in an accident and receive injuries, whether you wore a helmet or not, our reputable attorneys at Maguire Law Firm have experience fighting for compensation. Contact us today to learn more about these laws and how we can help you get compensated.

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