While riding a motorcycle can be a thrilling experience, it is an unfortunate reality that riders are at much greater risk of injury than the occupants of cars, trucks, and buses. Because riders are largely unprotected on their motorcycles, Georgia has many laws in place to try to increase the safety of motorcycle riding and to protect riders from other motor vehicles.
It is important to follow all the applicable motorcycles laws. If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, the other party or the insurance companies may try to place at least part of the blame on your failure to follow motorcycle laws, such as not being licensed to operate a motorcycle, failing to wear a helmet or other protective headgear, or lane splitting.
At Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, our personal injury attorneys have deep roots throughout the Greater Atlanta area. Our Georgia injury lawyers have compassion for our clients and are committed to making a real difference in their lives. That is why we encourage every motorcycle rider to follow the law to protect themselves. In the unfortunate event of an accident, our motorcycle accident lawyers can help ensure that our clients receive the full compensation they deserve.
Kevin A. Adamson was great when I had my accident. He stayed at the hospital with me during my hospital stay and sat with my family each of my three surgeries. With Adamson & Cleveland, LLC, you get more than great legal representation, you get a friend for life!
License Requirements for Motorcyclists in Georgia
In Georgia, you need a Class M license to ride a motorcycle or other motor-driven cycle. Georgia law defines a motorcycle as any motor vehicle having a saddle for the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels. Tractors or mopeds with a 50cc or smaller engine are excluded from the definition of a motorcycle.
To obtain a Class M license in Georgia, an applicant must be at least 17 years old. A parent/guardian or responsible adult is required to sign the application, with privileges to request that the applicant’s Class M driver’s license be revoked at any time before they turn 18.
The applicant must also pass the following:
- The Georgia Knowledge Exam, which consists of the Road Rules Test (applicable to the Class M license) and the Road Signs Test
- The Road Skills Test for the Class M license
- A vision exam
Alternatively, an applicant can take the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Course. The course is intended for new motorcycle riders and includes five hours of formal classroom instruction and 10 hours of riding instruction. If an applicant successfully completes the Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Course, they receive a 90-day license waiver, which allows them (assuming eligibility) to apply for and obtain a Class M license without having to complete the Class M written and riding exams within 90 days of the completion of the course.
Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Georgia is one of 19 states that have a universal helmet law, under which every motorcycle rider is required to wear a helmet. Twenty-eight other states have a partial helmet law, which requires helmet use for motorcycle riders under a certain age. Three states – Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire – have no helmet law.
Under Georgia law, a motorcycle rider is required to wear a helmet or other protective headgear that complies with the standards established by the Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety. The helmet or headgear must have a windshield, unless the rider is wearing another type of eye protection approved by the commissioner.
Georgia’s helmet law does not apply to motorcycle riders riding within an enclosed cab or motorized car or to riders operating three-wheeled motorcycles used exclusively for agricultural purposes.
Other Safety Requirements for Motorcyclists in Georgia
Georgia law prescribes other safety requirements specific to motorcycles. For example, Georgia Code § 40-6-311 establishes safety requirements for riding motorcycles, which include:
- Riding on the permanent and regular seat of the motorcycle
- Not carrying another person on the motorcycle unless the bike and its seat are designed to carry two people or the other rider is in another rear or sidecar
- Not carrying another person in a position that interferes with the view of the operator or their control of the motorcycle
- Facing forward, sitting astride the seat with one leg on either side of the bike
- Not carrying any package or article that prevents the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebars
- Wearing footwear in addition to or other than socks
Georgia Code § 40-6-313 further prohibits a motorcycle rider from attaching themselves or the motorcycle to another vehicle.
Georgia Code § 40-6-314 specifies requirements for footrests and handlebars, including requiring footrests for any rider not riding in a sidecar or enclosed cab and limiting the handlebar height to no more than 15 inches above the seat.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Georgia?
Although many motorcycle riders view motorcycles as an efficient way to maneuver through gridlock and other busy traffic, lane splitting is outlawed in Georgia. Other states may have no laws explicitly banning the practice, while California is the only state whose laws expressly permit lane splitting.
Georgia Code § 40-6-312 establishes how a motorcycle can operate along roadways, including:
- Granting motorcycles full use of a lane of traffic by prohibiting other motor vehicles from depriving any motorcycle of full use of a lane. However, motorcycles may be operated two abreast in a single lane of travel.
- Prohibiting motorcycles from overtaking and passing other motor vehicles in the same lane of travel as the overtaken vehicle.
- Prohibiting motorcycles from operating between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Contact the Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys of Adamson & Cleveland, LLC
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Norcross, Gwinnett County, or anywhere in the Greater Atlanta area, the experienced Georgia motorcycle accident lawyers at Adamson & Cleveland, LLC want to help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Contact us by phone or online to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our attorneys today.