The weather is beautiful in Georgia, and bicyclists everywhere are excitedly heading out on the roads after being cooped up through the winter. However, bicyclists are all too aware of the risks of taking their bikes out on the roadways.
It is crucial to understand the bicycle right-of-way laws in Georgia so you can protect yourself from injury and be prepared to pursue legal action if you are struck by a car while biking. A bicycle accident attorney could help you analyze your options after suffering an injury and determine whether the bicycle right-of-way laws have an impact on your case.
Georgia Road Safety Laws for Bicyclists
It is up to bicyclists to take their safety into their own hands. It is crucial to operate your bicycle as safely as possible and adhere to traffic laws at all times.
You cannot control other drivers, but you can control your own actions. This will go a long way in helping you recover the compensation you are entitled to if you are involved in a collision.
The Right of Way
Bicyclists will generally have the right of way if they are in bicycle lanes and following traffic laws at any given time. This means bicyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs and follow the same rules and regulations that motorists do.
Where Bikes Can Ride Safely
Depending on the area you are biking through, there may be multiple options for riding your bike safely. Georgia has several bicycle lanes and adjacent roads, including:
- Designated bicycle lanes which are noted by a dotted or solid white line
- Shared lanes where vehicles share the roadways with Bicycles
- Protected bicycle lanes that are designated by parking spots, permanent cones, trees, or other barriers
If none of these lines are present, bicyclists should always ride on the far right side of the road in the same direction as the flow of traffic. If there are road hazards, you need to turn, or you are being overtaken by another vehicle, you are legally allowed to ride in the main part of the road with other cars.
You should generally never ride on sidewalks unless you are under the age of 12. However, local ordinances may apply which allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks in limited circumstances.
Bicyclist’s Duty of Care
Bikers must always exercise a reasonable duty of care to protect themselves from potential injuries or fatalities caused by car accidents. There are specific rules and regulations bicyclists should be prepared to follow when traveling on Georgia roadways. These include:
- Stopping for stop signs
- Stopping at red lights
- Slowing down for yellow lights
- Using a hand motion to signal when stopping and turning
- Passing on the left unless conditions allow bikers to pass safely on the right
Failure to follow these regulations could be considered a breach of the duty of care. Although you may still have grounds for legal action against those responsible for causing the accident, a breach of the duty of care could result in shared fault allegations. This will have a significant impact on your ability to recover compensation in the outcome of your case.
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Georgia Bicycle Equipment Laws
Georgia also has several laws in place that oversee bicycle equipment. For example, any biker under the age of 16 is required to wear a properly fastened helmet at all times.
If you were going to be riding your bicycle at night, under Georgia Code §40-6-296 it must be equipped with a front headlight that can be easily seen from a minimum of 300 feet away. Additionally, your bicycle should have read rear reflectors as well. All bicycles are legally required to have a working brake so the bikes can be easily stopped when needed.
When Bikers Can Share Fault for an Accident
Anytime bicyclists fail to uphold their duty of care, they can be accused of sharing fault for their injuries. As previously mentioned, your settlement could be substantially affected if you are accused of sharing the blame for your injuries. If a bicyclist makes unsafe lane changes, fails to follow right-of-way rules, or rides on a sidewalk, they could share culpability for their damages.
Since Georgia follows modified comparative negligence laws under Georgia Code §51-12-33, sharing liability will reduce your settlement proportionately. For example, if you fail to use hand motions indicating a left turn on a major roadway, the judge might find you 15% responsible when you are struck by a distracted driver.
You could expect your bicycle accident to reflect a 15% shared fall reduction to account for this liability. Your bicycle accident attorney will ensure any unjust allegations of shared liability are handled properly so your settlement is not at risk of wrongful deductions.
How to Prevent Georgia Bicycle Accidents
The best way to prevent a bicycle accident is to operate your bike as safely as possible and follow all necessary traffic rules and regulations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as much as 20% of bicyclists have blood alcohol concentration levels indicating biking under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even though you are not operating a motor vehicle, you are still subject to George’s drunk driving laws, and you might even face criminal charges if you were biking under the influence.
Although you may not be obligated to wear a bicycle helmet if you are over 16 years of age, doing so could save your life. Furthermore, if you are not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, it leaves you open to accusations of shared liability for your injuries.
Reach Out to a Georgia Bicycle Accident Lawyer for Help Today
Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road that other motorists do. However, when motorists fail to follow bicycle right-of-way laws and share the roads with bicyclists, they can cause debilitating and life-threatening injuries. If you suffered catastrophic injuries or damages in a bicycle wreck caused by a violation of Georgia’s right of way laws, you could make the liable party pay.
Contact an experienced Georgia bicycle accident lawyer at John Foy & Associates to find out how you can get the most out of your claim. You can schedule your 100% free consultation when you call our office or fill out our convenient contact form.