An attempted left turn by a pickup truck driver ended with fatal injuries being inflicted on a motorcycle rider. The deadly wreck in Spartanburg, South Carolina (SC), happened a little after 9:20 pm on September 25, 2017.
News reports indicate that the man behind the wheel of the pickup was trying to turn from Highway 290/E. Main Street onto Highway 298/Reidville Road. Both he and the motorcyclist had green lights.
The motorcycle rider, identified as a 26-year-old from Duncan who was wearing a helmet, got ejected from his bike and was taken to a nearby hospital with unspecified injuries. He succumbed to his injuries and died within hours.
Authorities have filed an initial charge of failure to yield right of way against the pickup truck driver. As stated in section 56.5-2320 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Meeting the legal duty to yield right of way requires a turning driver to scan for oncoming traffic and err on the side of caution before entering an intersection. Both necessary actions can become difficult when an oncoming vehicle is a motorcycle. Many drivers have a hard time seeing much smaller bikes at all. Accurately estimating a motorcycle rider’s distance and speed is also tough under perfect conditions. At night, drivers often mistakenly assume bike are farther away and moving slower than they actually are.
And none of those explanations constitute automatic excuses for taking a turn negligently. This deadly wreck on Highway 290 in Spartanburg County illustrates the worst that can happen when drivers fail to spot and wait for motorcycle riders. Sadly, similar fatal crashes occur all across the country each day.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our condolences to the family of the man from Duncan, SC, who lost his life. We also want to take this opportunity to once again urge drivers to make the extra effort to see motorcycles and to muster the patience to ensure that they have enough time and space to clear an intersection without putting themselves or anyone else in danger.