With Georgia traffic slowly returning to normal, and with May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Burrow & Associates would like to highlight some of the state’s guidelines on safe driving. Motorcyclists need to understand Georgia’s licensing, insurance, and other requirements. It is also essential for drivers to be cautious and alert when sharing the road with two-wheel vehicles.
Georgia’s Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements
Under Georgia law, you must be at least 17 years or older to obtain a Class M License for operating a motorcycle (which also includes scooters, motorbikes, and minibikes). For those who are 17 years old, the driver must obtain a signed Responsible Adult Affidavit from their parent before taking the driving test. Drivers who are 18-years and older do not need to submit an affidavit.
There are two ways to earn a motorcycle license. The first is to pass a Motorcycle Safety Program Course, which provides drivers with professional training in motorcycle handling. The second way is to apply for a Class M License directly through a DDS Customer Service Center. The Center will administer an on-cycle skills test, a knowledge test, and a vision test. (If you already passed a vision test in conjunction with another driver’s license, then this test can be waived).
Georgia also requires motorcycle owners to carry a specific insurance policy. That policy must include, at a minimum: $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in a motorcycle-related accident, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in a motorcycle-related accident, and $25,000 for the destruction of property as a result of a motorcycle-related accident.
Georgia’s Safety Equipment and Traffic Laws
In addition to the state’s licensing and insurance requirements, Georgia motorcyclists should also be aware of the laws related to safety equipment and traffic. Because motorcycles are so much smaller and more maneuverable than other vehicles on the road, Georgia has special provisions in place to help keep motorcyclists safe.
Georgia requires all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear a helmet (Georgia Code 40-6-315(a): No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear, which complies with standards established by the commissioner of motor vehicle safety). Georgia law also requires motorcyclists to use either a windshield or other eye protection (Georgia Code 40-6-315(b): No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle if the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield unless he or she is wearing an eye-protective device of a type approved by the commissioner of public safety.) Additionally, the motorcyclist must always have the bike’s headlights and taillights on.
Concerning traffic laws, motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a lane. They cannot drive in between lanes of traffic, cannot overtake, and pass a vehicle within one lane, and cannot have more than two motorcycles next to each other in the same lane simultaneously. Georgia also has laws on the safe operation of motorcycles, which includes proper seat usage, properly securing any cargo, and safe passenger practices.
Safety is a Priority
Georgia’s motorcycle laws and regulations are in place to protect everyone on the road. In more than 2/3 of all motorcycle-related accidents, it is the driver of the other vehicle who is at fault (Source: USDOT). That is because of vehicle blind spots and drivers being unfamiliar with, or not paying attention to, the motorcyclist’s driving patterns.
If a collision does occur, the motorcyclist has a higher risk of severe injury. This can include burns, torn muscles, broken bones, internal bleeding, organ or spinal cord damage, or brain trauma. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are five times more likely to be injured and 26 times more likely to die in a collision than the driver of a passenger vehicle. In 2018 alone, close to 5,000 motorcyclists died in a traffic accident (Source: NHTSA).
If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a motorcycle accident, that person needs legal representation. Motorcycle cases are complex and involve in-depth analysis. A personal injury attorney can help the injured motorcyclist recover medical expenses and property damage, as well as negotiate with the insurance company. If you have additional questions or would like to schedule a consultation with our team of personal injury attorneys, call Burrow & Associates at (678) 323-2394. We have six convenient locations in Metro Atlanta and Athens and offer free consultations.