Georgia Motorcycle Safety Laws

By July 10, 2023July 26th, 2023Motorcycle Accident

Motorcyclists have the same rights as all motorists, but the stakes are higher for them in accidents. With their smaller size and lack of protection, motorcyclists can suffer damage when other drivers fail to follow motorcycle laws.

In Georgia, drivers who fail to maintain precautions when sharing the road with motorcyclists bear liability for any damages they cause. Unfortunately, many Georgia drivers do not exercise care toward motorcycles, increasing the risk of accidents.

1. Yielding

One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is failure to yield. Right-of-way laws dictate which driver can proceed first in various driving situations. By failing to yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist, drivers can cause serious, life-altering accidents.

In Georgia, a driver must yield to a motorcyclist already in an intersection. Similarly, a motorist entering a roadway from a driveway or alley must yield to oncoming traffic, including motorcyclists.

Violating these laws can lead to hefty fines, points on your license, and even jail time, depending on the severity of the accident and the state. Accidents from failing to yield often involve a driver making a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, causing severe injury or even death.

As a motorist, you must understand and follow right-of-way laws, checking for oncoming traffic and paying attention to motorcyclists who may be harder to see than larger vehicles. Always signal your intentions, never assuming that other drivers will yield to you. By prioritizing safety and following these laws, drivers can prevent tragic accidents involving motorcyclists.

2. Following Too Closely

Following too closely, or tailgating, is another frequent cause of accidents involving motorcyclists. Tailgating occurs when a vehicle follows another at an unsafe distance, which can lead to collisions if the leading one suddenly stops or slows down.

Drivers should always have adequate time to stop or slow down. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that drivers should leave at least a one-second following distance for every foot of vehicle when traveling below 40 miles per hour. At higher speeds, drivers will need to add more. However, this rule varies depending on weather conditions, speed, and road surface.

When motorists follow motorcyclists too closely, the risk for accidents increases significantly. You may need to add extra distance if you are behind a motorcycle. Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles can stop quickly, and their brake lights might be less noticeable. If a motorcyclist brakes suddenly a driver follows behind them too closely with disastrous consequences.

When motorists neglect these precautions while following behind a motorcycle, they may bear liability for damages they cause. 

Georgia Motorcycle Safety

3. Unsafe Lane Changes

Georgia laws dictate the proper use of signals and blind spot checking before changing lanes. Breaking these laws can result in fines and points on your driving record. More importantly, neglecting these safety measures can lead to a collision with a motorcyclist in your blind spot.

Unsafe lane changes can cause accidents when a motorist moves into an occupied lane. These incidents often occur when drivers fail to signal their intentions or thoroughly check their blind spots.

To prevent accidents from unsafe lane changes, motorists should always use their turn signals, check their mirrors, and look twice for motorcycles. Additionally, drivers should be mindful of motorcycles, which can be hard to see when changing lanes or merging into traffic. By following these precautions, drivers can help create a safer road environment.

4. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses a significant threat to the safety of any driver on the road, but particularly to motorcyclists because of their smaller size and lower visibility. Distracted driving is any activity that pulls a driver’s attention from the primary task of driving. Common distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, and conversing with passengers.

Each state has its own laws addressing distracted driving, with many imposing strict penalties on those who text or use handheld devices while operating a vehicle.

Georgia law, for example, prohibits drivers from touching a phone with any part of the body while talking on it, which means drivers can only talk on the phone if the device is completely hands-free. The law also prohibits texting, checking email, or using a phone while driving, including using it as a GPS device. Despite these regulations, distracted driving is common, causing accidents and injuries to motorcyclists and other motorists.

Distractions impair a driver’s ability to react to changing traffic conditions, increasing the likelihood of accidents involving motorcyclists, who are more vulnerable to severe injury or death because of their limited protection compared with other vehicles.

To minimize the risk of distracted driving accidents, motorists should avoid engaging in activities that take their attention away from the road. This means putting away mobile devices, adjusting settings on the vehicle before driving, and pulling over to the side of the road to address distractions when necessary. By focusing solely on driving, motorists can prevent collisions with motorcyclists and contribute to a safer road environment for all.

Unfortunately, many drivers continue to engage in these dangerous behaviors, leaving them liable when they cause an accident. 

5. Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal. Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s judgment, reaction time, and overall ability to operate a vehicle safely, putting all road users at risk.

Every state has strict laws and penalties for DUI offenses, such as fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. In Georgia, drunk drivers can lose their license for five years for a first offense and longer for additional convictions. Despite these consequences, impaired drivers continue to cause accidents and fatalities on the road.

Impaired driving can cause collisions with motorcyclists for various reasons. An intoxicated driver may fail to notice a motorcyclist on the road, make an improper turn, or lose control of their vehicle, causing a crash.

To prevent DUI accidents, motorists should always designate a sober driver or use alternative transportation options, such as taxis, rideshares, or public transport, when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Additionally, drivers should be aware of the dangers of DUI and encourage others to make responsible choices when getting behind the wheel. By prioritizing sobriety, motorists contribute to a safer driving environment. Drunk drivers often bear liability for any accidents their negligent behavior causes. 

6. Speeding

Exceeding the posted speed limit increases the severity of collisions and reduces a driver’s reaction time and ability to avoid hazards. Speeding motorists pose a significant risk to the safety of motorcyclists, who are inherently more vulnerable on the road.

Each state has its own speed limits and penalties for speeding violations, including fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Georgia specifically calls out super speeders, who exceed 75 miles per hour on two-lane roads. Nevertheless, drivers who disregard these laws continue to endanger the lives of motorcyclists and all road users.

Speeding can cause accidents with motorcyclists in several ways. For example, a speeding driver may have less time to react to a motorcyclist entering the roadway or may lose control of their vehicle when navigating curves or avoiding obstacles. Additionally, high speeds intensify the impact of collisions, increasing the likelihood of severe injury or death for motorcyclists.

To maintain a safe speed, motorists should adhere to the posted speed limits and adjust their speed according to traffic, weather, and road conditions. It is also essential for drivers to maintain a safe following distance behind motorcyclists to ensure adequate reaction time for sudden stops or maneuvers.

By obeying speed limits and practicing safe driving habits, motorists can minimize the risk of accidents involving motorcyclists and contribute to a safer road environment for everyone. Drivers that fail to do so can face liability for accidents their dangerous driving habits cause. 

6. Road Hazards

Road hazards, such as debris, potholes, or uneven pavement, can pose a significant risk to motorcyclists. When a motorist encounters a road hazard, they have their vehicle’s structure to protect them. Motorcyclists lack this protective barrier and are more likely to lose control or be thrown from their motorcycles.

Some states have specific laws regarding road hazards that motorists cause, such as improperly securing loads or failing to clear debris from a vehicle. Violations of these laws can result in fines and penalties for the offending driver. Georgia law notes that motorcyclists who experience injury from debris in the road may have the right to file a claim against the responsible party. 

Accidents due to road hazards can have severe consequences for motorcyclists. For example, a motorcyclist may swerve to avoid debris on the road and collide with another vehicle or lose control and crash. In other instances, poorly maintained roads with potholes or uneven surfaces can lead to loss of control and subsequent injury or fatality.

Motorists can help prevent road hazards by securing their vehicle’s load, regularly maintaining their vehicles to minimize shedding debris, and reporting any observed hazardous road conditions to the appropriate authorities. By being mindful of the potential dangers that road hazards pose to motorcyclists, drivers can make roads safer for all users.

Violating Motorcycle-Specific Laws

Motorcycle-specific laws exist to protect motorcyclists and promote their safety on the road. For example, in Georgia, lane splitting is illegal. Motorcycle riders cannot legally split lanes or drive between two lanes of traffic, and other drivers cannot move into a motorcycle’s lane. 

Breaking these motorcycle-specific laws can lead to serious consequences, including fines, license suspension, or criminal charges. More importantly, violating these laws can injure motorcyclists.

Get Help From a Georgia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer After an Accident

Motorcycle Accident Attorney, Jean Paul Brunache

Violations by motorists can cause injuries to motorcyclists, many of which are preventable by understanding and following state-specific motorcycle laws. By being more aware of motorcyclists on the road and practicing safe driving habits, motorists can contribute to a safer environment for all road users.

If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident due to another driver’s negligence, working with an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer can pursue compensation for your losses. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your options for compensation.