COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -After the deaths of two motorcyclists over the weekend, an advocate for motorcycle riders in South Carolina says it’s time to stop blaming the victims just because they choose not to wear helmets.
Friday evening, 54-year-old Melvin Horton Jr. and 55-year-old Heidi Goots were killed in a collision near Charleston Highway and Dixiana Road while riding a motorcycle. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Cayce Department of Public Safety.
According to the state Department of Public Safety, four motorcyclists were killed on SC roads just this past weekend and 46 so far this year.
The state coordinator with ABATE of South Carolina, a motorcyclists’ rights group, says it almost feels like sometimes it’s bike riders who are being blamed for incidents on the road.
“One of the concerns I had, especially with this story, was in several news outlets the first thing you read was that they weren’t wearing their helmets and that really wasn’t the case of what caused the collision and that wasn’t even against the law. It’s legal for those individuals to ride their motorcycle without a helmet,”the state coordinator for ABATE of SC Ralph Bell said.
Bell says it’s unfair to point out that Horton and Goots were not wearing helmets, because they had a right to make that choice under state law.
“A lot of people will say that we don’t have a helmet law, but in reality we’ve had the same helmet law for almost 39 years. Our current helmet law says anyone under 21 needs to wear a helmet. If you’re over 21, although we encourage you to wear it, it isn’t enforceable by law,”Bell said.

Bell says ABATE members are in support of the South Carolina law which gives riders over the age of 21 the right to choose whether or not they wear a helmet.
Bell also says it’s the responsibility of both drivers and bikers to practice safety on the roadways.
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