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Motorcycle Collisions FAQ

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1)  Do traffic laws apply to motorcycle riders?

 

Georgia has specifically adopted a statute that imposes traffic laws for automobiles and passenger vehicles equally to motorcycle riders.

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2)  What are common causes of motorcycle accidents?

 

Most often, the cause of a motorcycle accident is due to the negligence of other drivers on the roadway who do not appreciate and respect motorcycle riders. 

 

Their negligence often includes:

 

  • Failing to Check Blind Spots;

  • Cutting a Cyclist Off (i.e. intersections or left turns);

  • Right of Way / Failure to Yield Errors;

  • Crossing/Changing Multiple Lanes of Traffic;

  • Failing to See a Motorcyclist in Merging Traffic;

  • Distracted Driving (i.e. texting, talking, eating, or music);

  • Tailgating;

  • Speeding;

  • Driving Under the Influence.

 

 

Even though another driver’s negligence is usually the cause of a collision, the cyclist’s own negligence can contribute to a collision, such as:

 

  • Lane Splitting;

  • Abrupt Stops;

  • Riding in Unsafe Weather;

  • Riding Three Abreast;

  • Speeding.

 

Collisions have been known to be caused by debris in the roadway, especially grass, leaves, and pine needles or other slick substances. 

 

Poorly designed and/or maintained roadways can also lead to collisions, as well as malfunctioning or defective parts on the motorcycle.

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3)  Who can be responsible for causing a motorcycle collision?

 

Depending on the cause of the collision, there may be one or several potentially responsible parties, including:

 

  • Other Drivers (and possibly their employers, if during the course of employment);

  • Landowners (who cause debris to be in the roadway);

  • Government Entities (who are responsible for maintaining roadways in a safe condition);

  • Mechanics/Technicians (who negligently service a motorcycle or vehicle causing the collision);

  • Product Manufacturer (for any other product defects in the design or manufacturing).

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4)  What are common injuries from a motorcycle collision?

 

Injuries that are commonly expected from a motorcycle collision include:

 

  • Road Rash

  • Biker’s Arm

  • Other Nerve Damage

  • Lower Extremity Injuries (i.e. broken bones/amputation)

  • Head and/or Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Death

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5)  What is biker’s arm?

 

Biker’s arm occurs during a motorcycle crash when the biker extends and positions their arm to brace for impact or cushion their fall. 

 

It’s a term used to describe the nerve damage that often results from these reflexive reactions.

 

It’s a broad term that describes the nerve damage to the median, radial, and/or ulnar nerves in the arm.  Some common symptoms of biker’s arm include:

 

  • Muscle weakness in the shoulder, arm, elbow, hand or fingers;

  • Numbness or tingling in the shoulder, arm, elbow, hand or fingers;

  • Loss of control of the shoulder, arm, elbow, hand or fingers;

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6)  Are some motorcycles more dangerous than others?

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found a correlation between a motorcycle’s engine capacity and how likely the motorcycle will be involved in a collision.

 

In general, the larger the engine size and capacity, the more likely the engine will be involved in a motorcycle collision.

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7)  What type of motorcycle gear should be worn?

 

Generally, motorcycle riders are required to wear shoes and a helmet, along with eye protection if no windshield is provided. 

 

However, it’s also advisable to wear gloves, jackets, pants, and boots (instead of shoes) for extra safety.

 

This helps provide important protection from the elements as well as injury from an unexpected collision.

 

Even then, it doesn’t hurt to wear bright clothing and/or reflective vests on your helmet or the back of your boots.

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8)  When can a passenger ride on a motorcycle?

 

A passenger is only allowed to ride on a motorcycle only if the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one passenger.  This can be either in a rear seat or side-car seat. 

 

If a rear seat is provided, the passenger must also have footrests available.

 

Additionally, a passenger is not allowed to ride in a position that interferes with the operation and control of the motorcycle.  So, even when they are riding in a passenger’s seat, the passenger cannot do so in a way that obstructs or interferes with the driver.

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9)  Is sidesaddling allowed on a motorcycle?

 

It’s against the law to ride a motorcycle sidesaddled.  The rider is required to face forward with one leg on either side of the seat.

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10)  Is a motorcycle rider allowed to carry objects, like groceries, in their lap?

 

Probably not.  A motorcycle rider cannot carry anything that prevents him or her from keeping both hands on the handlebar.  Arguably, objects in their lap could prevent them from doing so.

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11)  Can I ride my motorcycle barefooted?

 

Georgia law specifically prohibits drivers and passengers from riding on a motorcycle barefooted.  They are required to have some type of footwear other than socks.

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12)  Are motorcycles legally allowed to ride two abreast in a single lane?

 

Although a motorcycle is entitled to the full use of its lane and cannot be deprived of it by another motor vehicle, two motorcycles are also allowed to ride in the same, two abreast.

 

Motorcycles are not allowed to ride three abreast in a single lane, however.

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13)  Is a motorcycle allowed to pass cars by riding between two lanes?

 

First and foremost, traffic laws apply equally to motorcycles as they do cars and other vehicles. 

 

These laws prohibit other drivers from interfering with another’s lane of travel without yielding the right of way. 

 

Secondly, Georgia specifically prohibits motorcycles from overtaking and passing a vehicle in the same lane.  So, a motorcycle rider cannot attempt to bypass traffic by driving between two lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction.  This is often seen at stoplights.

 

Police officers are specifically exempted from this rule.

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14)  Are motorcycle riders required to have their headlights on when riding?

 

The laws in Georgia require motorcycles riders to keep both their headlights and taillights on  at all times that the motorcycle is in operation.

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15)  What is a sissy bar?

 

A sissy bar is a raised bar, usually behind the passenger seat.  Also known as a passenger backrest, it provides back support for the rider or passenger while riding.

 

Alternatively, it can be used as an anchor against which to mount luggage or other equipment on the motorcycle.

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16)  Are motorcycle riders required to wear helmets in Georgia?

 

All motorcycle riders – drivers or passengers – must wear protective headgear while on a motorcycle. 

 

This headgear must meet the safety standard requirements as established by the commissioner of public safety.

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17)  What types of motorcycles are on Georgia’s roadways?

 

The types of motorcycles that are commonly found on Georgia’s roadways include:

 

  • Standard motorcycle

  • Cruiser

  • Touring motorcycle

  • Sport bike

  • Super-sport bike

  • Sport-touring motorcycle

  • Dual-sport motorcycle

  • Scooter

  • Underbone

  • Moped

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18)  What are some things a motorcycle rider can do to avoid an accident or injury?

 

Some safety tips for motorcycle riders that can help avoid an accident or minimize injury include:

 

  • Wear a helmet and eye protection;

  • Inspect the bike’s lights, tires, and fluids before riding;

  • Plan your ride and ride defensively;

  • Wear appropriate clothing.

 

When riding in a group, these are additional helpful tips:

 

  • Plan and organize beforehand;

  • Communicate with agreed-upon hand signals;

  • Leave room;

  • Stagger your ride (avoid riding two abreast);

  • Adopt a buddy system.

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19)  What are common statutes and regulations that may apply to a motorcycle collision?

 

Some common statutes and regulations that may apply to a motorcycle collision case include:

 

  • 49 C.F.R. 571.218 (Motorcycle Helmets);

  • Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-13-.02 (Motorcycle Helmets);

  • Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 570-12-.03 (Eye Protection);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-310 (Traffic Laws Apply to Motorcycles);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-311 (Manner of Riding Motorcycles);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-312 (Operating Motorcycle on Roadway);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-314 (Footrests and Handlebars);

  • O.C.G.A. § 40-6-315 (Headgear and Eye-Protection);

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