mandatory helmet lawsOver the 4th of July weekend, a New York man died while on a ride to protest the mandatory helmet law in his state.

Philip Contos 55, died when his bike fishtailed and he went over the handlebars, hitting his head on the road. Medical personnel at the hospital had no doubt Contos would have survived if he had worn a helmet.

Contos was participating in the 11th annual helmet protest ride sponsored by the Onondaga chapter of ABATE, American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. The group lobbies for freedom and awareness among bikers and the public. The Syracuse chapter president, Christinea Rathbun, told a news agency how saddened and shocked the group was at Contos’ death.

ABATE believes that each adult rider should have a choice whether to wear a helmet, but New York is one of 20 states with a mandatory helmet law applying to all ages. South Carolina’s law requires riders under age 21 to wear a helmet.

A representative of the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jim Hedlund, stated that a helmet reduces the risk of fatality in a motorcycle accident by 40%. However, ABATE of New York’s website notes that helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents, and the decision to wear one should be up to each adult rider.

As South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyers, we represent riders who were victims of motorcycle and auto accidents, and we see both sides: victims who did and did not wear helmets.

What do you think? Should wearing a motorcycle helmet be mandated by law, and why or why not?

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lane splitting

Lane splitting is riding your bike between lanes, including maneuvering between lanes of slow or stopped traffic. It’s also called filtering, stripe riding, and white lining.

Laws vary, but generally, lane splitting is not allowed in most areas of the U.S., with the exception of California. Some states do not specifically ban lane splitting, but have other laws in place that effectively condone or forbid it. South Carolina specifically prohibits lane splitting. Motorcycles are entitled to a full lane just as cars are, and motorcycles can travel two abreast in a single lane. Check with law enforcement in your state.

Some of the dangers of lane splitting include . . .

  • Car doors opening suddenly, causing loss of control.
  • Cars changing lanes without warning or signals.
  • Hands, dogs, or objects coming out of windows.
  • Drivers of larger vehicles not seeing you.
  • Drivers not seeing you at intersections and turning.

If you split lanes, most of these dangers can be avoided by being aware of cars around you, adjusting your speed to conditions, staying out of drivers’ blind spots, wearing bright clothing, and making noise when you’re moving. When you stop, stay in front or behind a car, and always make sure drivers can easily see you. At intersections, always assume a car will turn and stay away from the side. Remember, cars cannot see you as easily as you can see them.

While drivers and law enforcement consider lane splitting dangerous (we do too), proponents of lane splitting say that it reduces rear-end collisions for bikes and reduces traffic congestion. Opponents say it is dangerous and doesn’t offer any real congestion relief because of the low numbers of motorcycles. Unfortunately, in case of accident, riders are often deemed at fault if the crash occurs while lane splitting, even in areas where it’s legal.

Do you split lanes, and why or why not?

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If you drive a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle, you’ve probably experienced a situation where your bike wasn’t heavy enough to trigger a traffic signal change (when you drive up to the red light you have to wait longer than average for the light to turn green because the sensors in the ground are not triggered due to your low weight).

Well I’ve got good news! You don’t have to sit at these drastically long traffic lights forever.

See below for South Carolina law SECTION 56-5-970:

SECTION 56-5-970. Traffic-control signal legend.

(C)(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycle or moped, or a bicycle rider, approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control device, the driver may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the driver or rider, as the case may be:

(a) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for one hundred twenty seconds; and

(b) exercises due care as provided by law, otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, and determines it is safe to proceed.

Visit to view more South Carolina Laws.

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For motorcyclists in South Carolina or passing through this beautiful state, it’s important to be aware of all South Carolina motorcycle laws. We’ve compiled a few of our posts on SC motorcycle law for South Carolina visitors and residents, alike, to ensure you know your biker rights and understand the law, as well as remain safe on the road.

South Carolina Motorcycle Law:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

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“My Harley to the End”

On September 21, 2010, in Motorcycle Care, by admin

I found this poem on the Internet last week and thought I would post it on my blog. You can find additional biker poetry on this website.

My Harley to the End

“You wont ask me for much

Just a little of my time

To fix your aching joints

And fill your tanks with wine

To polish those rough edges

Keeping them looking new

Tighten up your spokes

Maybe a new paint job too.

Replace all your plugs,

Wire all your circuits

Bring out those fantastic colors

Painted without smudges

Take off those old rusty nuts

Shine up all those screws and such.

Replace your worn down tires

Works out to be quite a few hours

Of mental meditation

Decisions, contemplations

And some aggravations.

But all in all, I love you so

You take me places people don’t go.

You spend your time just hanging out

Waiting to take me all about

I could not ask for a better friend,

Me and my Harley to the end.”

-Kimberley A. Manning

And below is my motorcycle until the end!

motorcycle lawyer

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