A motorcycle rider lost his life after colliding with a drunk driver in Hanahan, South Carolina (SC). The fatal crash happened at 7:05 pm on February 25, 2017, when the vehicles collided on Railroad Avenue.
Local police and investigators from the State Highway Patrol did not release details on how the deadly wreck happened. They did, however, charge the woman driving the car with felony DUI resulting in death and transporting an open container of alcohol.
The limited information available indicates that the motorcyclist suffered fatal injuries when he was ejected from his bike. He was wearing a helmet, and he appears not to have been at fault.
A likely scenario is that the woman behind the wheel of the car simply failed to see the motorcycle before changing lanes, attempting to turn or exiting from a parking lot. A growing body of research shows that drivers do not register the existence of motorcycle riders even when they should be able to spot them physically.
An interesting personalized summary of this phenomenon appeared recently in Road & Track:
[M]otorcycles fall into that category of things that we don't always perceive even if they are right in our field of vision. A motorcycle approaching head-on from a distance occupies a very small part of a driver's vision. If it's going quickly, it's possible that the eye simply won't get around to looking at it enough to make it "stick" in the brain before it arrives in the driver's immediate vicinity. That part is important because the brain can really only see things that it understands. … [Consider, a] driver looks left and doesn't see the [motorcycle] because it's pretty far away. He looks right. Now he looks left again. The bike is much closer, almost on him, but because he didn't see it last time—and this is important—his brain simply discards [it] as a result of his brain not expecting to see it. His brain is already busy doing this discarding for everything from his blind spot to various floaters in his vision to his own eyelashes. What's the harm in adding just one more object?>
Intoxication compounds the persistent problem of seeing without recognizing. As summarized elsewhere or our personal injury and wrongful death law firm website, drinking too much alcohol causes
- Diminished perception,
- Impaired judgment, and
- Slowed reflexes
A person driving under the influence will be prone to ignore or underestimate crash risks, and then be unable to respond appropriately when he or she does acknowledge the immediate danger to another person's health and life.
My colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the motorcyclist killed in the South Carolina wreck. We hope all who learn of it will take home the lesson to never drink and drive.