Understanding Georgia Motorcycle Laws
Motorcycle riders must follow all the same traffic laws as car, truck, and SUV drivers, plus or minus a few notable exceptions. Motorcyclists obviously don’t have to adhere to seat belt laws since motorcycles don’t have seat belts. Car and truck drivers aren’t legally required to wear helmets since they’re already encased in a protective shell.
Overall, there’s not much difference between motorcycle laws and other motor vehicle laws in the state. Here are the handful of things motorcycle riders need to keep in mind in Georgia.
Motorcycle Helmets Are Legally Required
Georgia motorcycle operators are required to wear helmets and have eye protection. The eye protection doesn’t necessarily need an attached visor or face shield. A rider can wear a visorless helmet if they have a windscreen on their motorcycle, or they can wear riding goggles of some kind.
Specific Motorcycle Features
Georgia’s motorcycle equipment laws are not as detailed as many other states, but there are a few essential requirements to remember.
“Ape hanger” handlebars are not legal in Georgia. A motorcycle’s handlebars must not be more than 15 inches above where a rider sits on the bike.
If a rider is going to carry a passenger, there needs to be either an extra seat for the passenger or a single seat must be big enough to carry a passenger safely, and the motorcycle must have passenger footrests.
Motorcycles must have at least one mirror, turn signals, and brake lights. Mufflers are required, and they need to be in proper working condition. Still, there aren’t any specific noise restrictions unless a local ordinance in a Georgia county or city has set limits.
Motorcycle License and Registration Requirements
Riders must have a motorcycle permit or a Class M license to operate a motorcycle in Georgia legally. Riders as young as 16 can get a motorcycle instructional permit, and riders 17 and older are eligible for Class M licenses, although 17-year-old riders must get parental/guardian consent.
Every motorcycle is legally required to be registered, but only motorcycle owners in counties requiring vehicle emissions tests are required to perform emissions testing. The same testing rules that apply to any other vehicles in a county will also apply to motorcycles.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
The 25/50/25 liability insurance requirements for regular passenger car, truck, and SUV drivers also apply to riders. Every motorcycle operator is legally required to carry the following:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability per person/$50,000 per accident
- $25,000 of property damage liability
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Georgia?
Some states are ambiguous or don’t mention lane splitting in their statutes; Georgia is not one of those states. You can find Georgia’s lane-splitting laws in Georgia Code 40-6-312, and it’s pretty unambiguous.
The statute says that it’s illegal for any car or truck driver to deprive a motorcyclist of the full use of their lane, but it’s also illegal for riders to:
- Operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between rows of vehicles
- Overtake or pass a vehicle within its lane
The section also states that it’s legal for motorcyclists to ride two abreast in the same lane, but more than two riders in a lane isn’t allowed.
It doesn’t appear that many active lobbying efforts are being made toward changing this law. There was a change.org petition that got just over 4,000 signatures, but it’s been closed for several years.
Lane splitting, or lane filtering, is one of the more divisive and complex aspects of state motorcycle laws. There are some compelling arguments that lane splitting, when done safely and correctly, makes congested traffic and waiting at lights safer for riders. Studies have also suggested that lane splitting can potentially increase average vehicle speeds during rush hour in urban areas where there are a lot of riders.
Many states seem to be considering lane-splitting law amendments, so changes can be made in coming years.
Safety Tips for Motorcycle Riders in Georgia
Being aware of Georgia’s motorcycle laws is just the first step to ensuring your safety on the road. Following these additional safety tips can help avoid motorcycle accidents and protect you from serious injuries:
Understand Your Motorcycle
Before hitting the road, take the time to understand your motorcycle’s controls and handling characteristics. Familiarize yourself with the braking response and the power of the engine.
Always Conduct Pre-Ride Checks
This includes checking your tire pressure, brakes, lights, and fluid levels. Regular maintenance can prevent unexpected malfunctions that can lead to accidents.
Wear Proper Gear
Apart from the legally required helmet and eye protection, consider wearing additional protective gear such as gloves, boots, and a durable jacket. Bright and reflective clothing can also increase your visibility to other drivers.
Assume that other drivers may not see you. Always maintain a safe distance between you and other vehicles, especially at intersections where most motorcycle accidents occur.
Avoid Bad Weather
Slippery conditions reduce your margin for error. Rain not only reduces your visibility but also decreases your tires’ grip on the road, which can make turning risky.
Speeding reduces your reaction time and increases the severity of accidents. Always obey the speed limit and reduce your speed when the road conditions or weather are poor.
Operating a motorcycle requires focus, balance, and coordination. Alcohol and drugs impair these essential skills, increasing the risk of accidents. Don’t drink and ride.
Motorcycle Safety Program Course
Enrolling in a motorcycle safety program can significantly improve your riding skills and knowledge of Georgia law. These courses also provide valuable tips for riding in different conditions.
Get the Representation You Deserve After a Motorcycle Accident Injury in Atlanta
The auto accident and motorcycle accident injury attorneys at the Dressie Law Firm have extensive experience representing clients in complex cases. Determining who was responsible for a motorcycle accident isn’t always easy, especially if the accident is severe and the rider is taken away in an ambulance before they get a chance to give their side of events.
The sooner a motorcycle crash lawyer can start collecting evidence, the better a rider’s chances will be to obtain a fair settlement or prevail in court.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident or you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, the Dressie Law Firm is ready to help. Call us at 770-203-1215 for a free initial consultation. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand your rights and fight for your deserved compensation.