The feeling of the wind in your hair, the connection with the road, and a general carefree attitude lead so many to ride motorcycles in all manner of places throughout the state, from major highways to the most obscure country road. Many Georgians enjoy the ability to ride their motorcycles as regular transportation to and from a destination, as part of their personal recreational activities, or as part of a club. There’s usually very little to stop these devoted Georgians from mounting their motorcycles and making a quick trip anywhere or nowhere.
However, the state of Georgia has strict laws regarding motorcycles and motorcycle riders that every motorcycle operator should familiarize themselves with so their next ride can be a safe, fun, and legal one. Below our experienced motorcycle lawyer Atlanta residents trust tackles some common questions for riders.
Can a motorcycle rider ride in the center of a lane?
Yes, if you are a single rider or side by side with another rider, you may operate your motorcycle in the center lane without being disturbed or edged out by another vehicle. Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (a) allows for a motorcycle to have the full use of whatever lane its rider decides to occupy and even two riders may occupy the same lane. However, no can, truck, or other vehicle can edge out one or two motorcycles. For example, if motorcycle A is occupying the entire middle lane, a sedan cannot encroach on the lane and obligate the rider to move. The same is true if both motorcycle A and B are occupying the center lane.
Can two motorcycle riders share a lane?
Some Georgians may be under the impression that more than one motorcycle cannot occupy a single lane of traffic. However, that impression is false. Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (a) and Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (d) both speak to this in different ways allowing for two motorcycles to be ridden “abreast,” or side by side, in the same lane but not allowing more than two. For example, motorcycle A and motorcycle B can occupy a lane of traffic but if motorcycle C tries to ride aside them in the same lane, even if it can fit, they would be in violation of Georgia law.
My motorcycle is small enough to fit through the lanes during a traffic jam, can I weave through traffic to make it home more quickly?
No. According to Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (c), no one can operate their motorcycle between lanes of traffic or even lines or rows of adjacent vehicles. For example, if you’re riding your motorcycle on the highway and the space between lanes is wide open, you should stay where you are and go at the pace of traffic unless you want a ticket. Likewise if you’re leaving a concert venue as, although there are not “lanes” of traffic, there are still lines or rows of adjacent moving vehicles present.
What is the person in front of me is slow? Can I overtake them in the same lane?
No. While any motorcycle rider may change lanes and then overtake another driver or rider in their new lane, Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (b) states that a motorcycle rider may not overtake a vehicle or other motorcycle in the same lane even if their motorcycle comfortably fits. For example, if a motorcycle is stuck behind a family sedan driving 30 mph under the speed limit, the motorcycle rider must wait for an opportunity to change lanes and then increase velocity up to the speed limit. They cannot, under any circumstances, overtake the vehicle or motorcycle in front of them in the same lane.
Do I always have to have my lights on or can I turn them off during the day time, just like cars and trucks?
Georgia Code § 40-6-312 (e) states that you must always have both your headlight and taillight on no matter the time of day.
Sometimes I “hitch a ride” on the back of other vehicles, is that okay as long as no one gets hurt?
No, Georgia Code § 40-6-313 states that no person who is riding on a motorcycle can attach themselves or the motorcycle to another moving vehicle. For example, if a tractor trailer is barreling down the highway and you attach your motorcycle to it to take advantage of the inertia without using gas, you would be in violation of the law.
Is there a particular way I have to sit or ride a motorcycle or can I do what I feel like?
Georgia law is very strict regarding how a person rides a motorcycle. Georgia Code § 40-6-311 (b) and (c) govern this by saying that the motorcycle rider must face forward astride the seat with both hands on the handlebars clear of any obstruction or other hinderance such as holding a package which would interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle. For example, if you came back from the market with a bag of groceries, it is legal to safely store it in a built-in, designated storage compartment. It would be illegal to hold it in your hand or dangling from your arm as you ride the motorcycle to your next destination.
My motorcycle only has a seat for one person but I can usually fit myself and a passenger, is that okay as long as we fit safely?
No. Georgia Code § 40-6-311 (a) states that a motorcycle may only carry the amount of people it is designed to hold. Thus, if there is a passenger seat, you may carry one passenger but if not then only the rider may be on the motorcycle.
What if I have other questions?
If you have other questions about Georgia motorcycle law, call our office today and speak with one of our experienced motorcycle lawyer Atlanta residents trust who can answer all of your questions about this area of Georgia law and any others you may have.