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Is Lane Splitting Legal in Georgia?
As the seasons change and temperatures rise, most motorcyclists want to enjoy the open road as much as possible. This includes minimizing time sitting in traffic. When caught in a traffic jam, in a rush to get to the next destination or to simply avoid being stopped behind vehicles for a prolonged period, is often tempting for motorcycle riders to either pass other vehicles between the lanes on the roadway. Some enthusiasts support lane splitting and believe that this technique may save time, ease congestion and may even be considered safer for riders. But is it legal to lane split in in Georgia? As with most states, lane splitting is not legal in Georgia.
1. What is Lane Splitting?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lane splitting is the practice of "passing between lanes of stopped or slower-moving vehicles on a motorcycle." This passing between lanes can be at speed in the regular flow of traffic or at traffic signals when vehicles have come to a stop or moving at a significantly lower rate of speed. When the lane splitting occurs in slow-moving traffic it is sometimes called "lane filtering" and is a type of lane splitting.
2. Is lane splitting legal in Georgia?
The State of Georgia explicitly prohibits the practice of lane splitting. As a result, if you are a new rider or an experienced motorcyclist visiting the state wondering is it legal to lane split in Georgia, the simple answer is, no.
According to Georgia motorcycle laws, the operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. Additionally, the prohibits operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles. This includes lane splitting in the regular flow of traffic and lane filtering at lower rates of speed or when vehicles are stopped at a traffic signal. Both types of lane splitting in Georgia are prohibited and violation Georgia statutes.
The only legal practice of lane splitting in Georgia is reserved for police officers who do so in the performance of their official duties. So, unless you are a police officer who is performing an official duty, lane splitting in Georgia is illegal and considered highly dangerous by some, and you should proceed with extreme caution.
3. Is lane splitting illegal in all 50 states?
In most states, lane splitting is illegal. In fact, the only state that explicitly allows lane splitting by statute is California. The vast majority of the remaining states, including Georgia, prohibit lane splitting by statute. In these states, motorcycle riders who choose to use lane splitting or lane filtering riding techniques do so at the risk of receiving traffic citations and fines if stopped by local law enforcement.
There are a small number of states that do not explicitly prohibit lane splitting but they don't specifically allow it either. As a result, motorcycle riders in these states are subject to the interpretation of local law enforcement and may experience varying traffic enforcement polices in jurisdictions within the same state.
4. What happens if you get a ticket for motorcycle lane splitting in Georgia?
Lane splitting in Georgia is a traffic offense that can result in either a fine, points assessed to your driver's license, or both. If found guilty of motorcycle lane splitting in Georgia, you could receive a base fine of at $132 and other charges fees depending on the county. Additionally, since lane splitting is illegal in Georgia, it's a moving violation and three points could be assessed to your driver's license.
5. What happens if I am involved in a lane splitting accident?
Reports show that motorcycle accidents are on the rise. As with any automobile accident the consequences for all involved are potentially life altering and devastating.
If an accident happens while a motorcycle is lane splitting, the liability or fault for the accident will most be attributed to the motorcycle rider. Therefore, any medical injuries or damages to personal property of everyone involved in the accident will be the responsibility of the lane splitting rider. An expert familiar with the nuances of these complex issues is a great resource to consult in these situations.
As with most situations there are exceptions, and the rider may be able to avoid or reduce their liability they can show that the accident was caused by the other party. This will most likely involve proving that the car that hit the motorcycle rider was changing lanes, weaving, or was distracted while operating their vehicle by either texting, changing the radio station, "rubber necking" or some other negligent operation. If you find yourself in this situation, do not attempt to decipher the facts and apply the law on your own. Contact your local motorcycle injury lawyer to get assistance.