MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Deaths in motorcycle crashes in South Carolina this year are up 33% over the same time last year.
So far, 118 people have died in motorcycle crashes. In 2020, the total number of deaths was 123. The current total also outpaces 2019 through 9 months when that year finished with 141 total deaths from motorcycle crashes.
Master Trooper Brian Lee with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the pandemic led to more people buying bikes, ultimately leading to an increase in the number of motorcyclists on the roads.
“I just think more people are out riding,” Lee said. “More people are trying to enjoy themselves. With the fall weather coming, the weather cools off, especially in the evening time. It’s nice weather where people get out and ride those motorcycles, and so I think that’s a reason why we’re having more fatalities concerning motorcycles than we did last year.”
Motorcyclists said they have to be vigilant on the roads to keep themselves safe.
“Always be aware of my surroundings and always be looking around and watching out for other drivers and people being unsafe and not watching for motorcycles,” said Larry Rucker, a motorcyclist celebrating Fall Bike Week.
Jeff Faith said riding a motorcycle is about expecting the unexpected.
“I drive defensively, but first of all there are no guarantees,” Faith said. “You have to be quite defensive and never assume that the other driver is doing something else or what you assume they’re going to do.”
Motorcyclists pointed to distracted drivers as their top cause for concern while out on the roads.
Faith said a safe motorcycle ride also depends on the rider.
“I’ve been riding a long time,” Faith said. “I’ve biked since I was 5. Know your equipment, keep up with your equipment: tires, brakes. Be safe.”
Lee said with thousands of motorcyclists in the area for the rest of the weekend that people should be more careful on the roads. He said one extra look can save a life.
“Anticipate that you’re going to have to maybe have a little bit more patient,” Lee said. “Try to give a little leeway and just focus and make sure that you look twice.”