What to know before driving a motorcycle in Georgia
It is important for all motorcyclists to be familiar with Georgia motorcycle laws to help avoid accidents and traffic violations. Each state has its own laws regarding the use of motorcycles. Failure to know these laws could not only result in a fine or penalty, but also lead to serious legal consequences in the event of a motorcycle accident.
Continue reading to learn more about the laws, requirements and restrictions that all motorcyclists in Georgia must follow.
Headgear and eye-protective devices for riders
The state of Georgia requires all motorcycle operators and their passengers to use an approved helmet. These helmets must have Department of Transportation (DOT) approval for construction and protection.
State law further states that anyone operating a motorcycle must have a windshield that is large enough to offer eye protection, have a visor on their helmet or use approved eyewear.
Footrests and handlebars
Georgia law requires that any motorcycle that is designed to carry a passenger must have footrests available for that passenger to use while the motorcycle is in operation.
The law also specifies that handlebars on a motorcycle can’t be more than 15 inches higher than the seat of the operator, and that any seat rest used for the passenger can’t create a sharp point at the top.
Operating a motorcycle on Georgia roads
It is illegal for a motorcycle to “lane split” when driving in Georgia. Lane splitting is defined as sharing the same lane as a passenger vehicle or driving between 2 passenger vehicles to pass them.
Motorcycles are allowed to ride 2 abreast in a lane if the lane is large enough to safely accommodate this. More than 2 motorcycles can’t ride abreast in the same lane.
Motorcycles must operate with their headlights and tail lights on at all times.
Additional requirements of operating a motorcycle in Georgia
All motorcycles must have seating provided for the operator and any passenger. A passenger can’t ride on a motorcycle without a seat or in any manner that would inhibit the operator from driving the motorcycle safely.
All motorcycles are required to have side mirrors. Motorcycles manufactured after 1972 must have turn signals. All motorcycles are required to have brake lights.
Age restrictions and licensing
Operators of a motorcycle must be at least 16 years of age and have successfully passed a Georgia motorcycle license test. They must have a Class M designation on their license. All drivers must also successfully pass an eye exam.
Georgia Code 40-2-2 requires that all motorcycles are registered with the state to operate legally. However, the motorcycle doesn’t require a title.
Motorcycle insurance requirements
All operators of a motorcycle must carry auto insurance coverage that meets the state minimum for coverage. The minimum insurance levels required by Georgia law are as follows:
- $25,000 bodily insurance per person per accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all people per accident
- $25,000 property damage liability
Additional insurance coverage such as uninsured/underinsured motorist, personal liability, collision and comprehensive is optional in Georgia. Though it’s not required, we recommend having some (if not all) of these optional policies to fully protect yourself from financial loss in the event of a serious motorcycle wreck.
Motorcycle traffic laws
Operators of a motorcycle are required to follow all traffic laws, just like passenger vehicle drivers. Violations of these traffic laws will result in the same penalties that apply to all other drivers.
Laws relating to the function of a vehicle (such as working headlights, etc.) also apply to all motorcycles operating in Georgia.
Motorcycle safety tips
Although the following tips are not technically a part of Georgia law, motorcyclists are encouraged to follow these guidelines in order to avoid motorcycle accidents and injuries:
- Wear closed-toe shoes. It’s always recommended that a person who is operating a motorcycle should wear solid, closed-toe shoes. This prevents foot injuries in the event of debris kicking up from the road or during an accident.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Due to the open and exposed nature of riding a motorcycle, motorcyclists should wear full-coverage, heavy duty clothing when operating a motorcycle. Long, sturdy pants made of denim or leather, and long-sleeved shirts, are highly encouraged. For optimal protection, wear gloves.
- Be careful when entering a highway. Many motorcycle accidents happen when a biker is leaving the on-ramp and entering the highway. This is because they are less visible than a passenger vehicle. Be extra cautious when entering a highway.
- Keep your motorcycle in good working order. Motorcycles with broken headlights or bad tires are more likely to be involved in an accidentBe sure to properly maintain your bike.
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s important that you speak with a knowledgeable Georgia attorney near you as soon as possible. Motorcycle accidents often result in life-changing and catastrophic injuries. It may be necessary to get help from an experienced motorcycle crash attorney in order to protect your rights as an accident victim.