SCHP: Wrecks during bike rallies often caused by motorcyclists

Bike week accidents

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Harley Bike Rally officially kicked off Monday, and with that, extra law enforcement patrols were combing the streets in an effort to enforce the law, but also to help cut back on traffic accidents during the bike festivities.

In May 2012, 11 people died in Horry County as a result of traffic accidents. Of those, 10 of the accidents were during or directly before a bike week. Of those 10, five were either driving or riding a motorcycle.

"Typically the motorcycle wrecks we see during the rally, they are the motorcyclist's fault. We will see things from running in the back of other motorcyclists to riding while impaired to speeding," South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Corporal Sonny Collins said.

"Motorcycle people - they like to look around at what's going on, and they're not watching what they're doing - either something caught their eye, and meanwhile, the car in front of them is stopping," said Kenneth Watson, who has been traveling to Myrtle Beach for bike week for nearly a decade.

It's not only the bikers who need to be aware.

"We also have to remind the motorist to do their part as well, because on the flip side we do have collisions where motorists have pulled in front of a motorcycle coming down the roadway, or turned left in front of a motorcyclist," Lance Cpl. Collins said.

Watson said he doesn't think cars realize that bikers can sometimes be in the blind spot.

"Cars sometimes, they're used to looking and they see a big object coming down the road, they won't pull out in front of it. A bike's smaller, you're gonna not see it," Watson said.

"When people go to change lanes, really they don't pay that much attention and look for a motorcycle. Just the quick glance, a lot of times they miss the view of the motorcycle," another biker, Johnny Ridings, said.

Lance Cpl. Collins said there's no way to gauge how many accidents to expect each year, but he said it's a time of year when every driver on the road needs to have heightened senses.

"We need motorists to expect to see a biker anywhere. If you do see a biker coming and you're gonna need to cross that path, make sure you understand that motorcyclist speed, it's very hard to judge a motorcycle speed, because they're smaller," Lance Cpl. Collins said.

Of the five motorcycle riders killed in Horry County in May 2012, none were wearing a helmet.

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