[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Passing laws: Georgia requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: Georgia requires the operator or passenger of a bicycle under the age of 16 years of age wear a helmet. In addition, no child under the age of 1 year of age shall be transported by bicycle, except on a bicycle trailer or in an infant sling and the child must be wearing a helmet. The failure to wear a helmet shall not be considered negligence per se or construed as the cyclist being contributory negligent.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. Georgia does not have any specific vulnerable laws, but those of laws that protect bicyclist.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public roadway. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exist. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Georgia there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
- A person under the age of 18 years who holds an instruction permit may not drive a vehicle on a roadway while using a wireless phone;
- No person who is 18 years or older who has a class C license shall operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless device to read, send or write a text message, email or instant message or use the internet; and
- A school bus driver may never operate a school bus while using his/her cell phone.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Georgia law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However, there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow; or
- When traveling at the same speed of traffic.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Georgia is that bicycles are considered vehicles and bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks, unless specifically allowed by a local ordinance.
Georgia requires that bicyclists use any lane or path specifically designated for bicycles and not use other sections of the roadway.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Georgia bicycles are defined as vehicles. Georgia’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does apply to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while under the influence and a bicyclist may potentially be charged with a DUI and subject to severe penalties and punishments.
Stop Sign Laws: In Georgia bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links