Traffic laws are necessary to prevent crashes by defining the orderly movement of vehicles, pedestrians, and other users of public highways. Remember, traffic laws exist for your safety; failure to obey them can result in crashes that may seriously injure or kill you or others. To obey the laws, you must first know and understand them.
3 Most Basic Traffic Laws
The three most basic traffic laws require drivers to:
- Obey traffic control devices (lights and signs);
- Obey the traffic directions of a law enforcement officer or firefighter, even if it goes against what the traffic control devices tell you to do;
- Never drive on a roadway that has been closed for construction, for the purpose of a special event, or for any other official reason.
Right-of-way is a phrase used to describe who has the lawful authority to enter a roadway, change lanes within a roadway, make a turn from a roadway, travel through an intersection, or make any other traffic related movement. Georgia law establishes right-of-way in all situations. Vehicle drivers (including bicyclists) and pedestrians should always understand the rules related to right-of-way, and remember that right-of-way is something to be given, not taken. There may be instances in which you as a driver or pedestrian have the legal right-of-way over someone else, even though the other person does not realize it and is not obeying the rules of the road. In those instances, the right-of-way should be yielded in order to prevent a crash.
The following is a list of the most common situations in which right-of-way questions are faced in real life:
- When traveling on a roadway that intersects with another roadway, if you are faced with a stop sign, but other traffic is not, you may proceed only after stopping and yielding the right-of-way to any other vehicle or pedestrian either in the intersection, or so close to the intersection as to make it dangerous to travel through the intersection;
- At intersections where there are no stop signs, yield signs or other traffic signals, if two vehicles come to the intersection at the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield to the driver of the vehicle on the right;
- At a four-way intersection where all drivers are faced with stop signs, all drivers must yield to pedestrians; otherwise the vehicles should proceed through the intersection in a “first to arrive, first to proceed order.” If two vehicles reach the intersection at approximately the same time, yield to any vehicles on your right.
- Important points to remember:
- Take your turn when it comes if it is safe to do so; do not unnecessarily delay traffic;
- If another driver tries to take your turn, even if you have the right-of-way, let the other driver proceed. It might prevent a traffic crash;
- Care, courtesy and common sense should govern your actions.
- Important points to remember:
- When making a left turn at an intersection, or into an alley or driveway, yield the right-of-way to all traffic coming from the opposite direction;
- When approaching a yield sign, slow down to a safe speed and be prepared to stop. If necessary, stop and only proceed when it is safe to do so;
- When the roadway you are traveling on is merging into other traffic without stopping, adjust your speed and vehicle position to allow you to merge into the new lane safely. If traffic from another roadway is merging into the roadway you are traveling on, safely change lanes away from the merging traffic if possible. If it is not possible to change lanes away from the merging traffic, adjust your speed and vehicle position to safely allow the traffic to merge;
- At intersections with traffic control lights, wait until the intersection is clear of traffic or approaching traffic before entering. Do not proceed “just because” you have the green light;
- If you are about to enter or cross a highway from an alley, private road or highway, you must stop and yield the right-of-way to all other pedestrians and vehicles already traveling on the roadway or sidewalk you are entering or crossing;
- If emergency vehicles are using their emergency lights (blue or red) and sirens, safely maneuver your vehicle out of their way. You should slow your vehicle and move over to the shoulder of the road, or if that is not possible, as far to the right of the roadway or lane as you can, and stop. You should always use caution to ensure that you do not endanger other motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians while doing so. Do not position your vehicle so that it blocks an intersection or otherwise prevents the emergency vehicle from making a necessary turn;
- Yield to all highway maintenance vehicles and workers in a construction zone;
- Unless a sign posted at that intersection prohibits doing so, it is permissible to make a “right turn on red” at an intersection controlled by a traffic control light. You may proceed only after making a complete stop, yielding to all traffic and pedestrians, and making the determination that you can safely complete the turn;
- Unless a sign posted at that intersection prohibits doing so, it is permissible to make a “left turn on red” from the left lane of a one-way street onto a one-way street on which the traffic moves toward the driver’s left. You may proceed only after making a complete stop, yielding to all traffic and stopping for pedestrians, and making the determination that you can safely complete the turn;
- When a school bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children, the driver of the bus will activate flashing yellow lights. When these flashing yellow lights are activated, all drivers approaching the school bus should slow down and be prepared to stop. All drivers should pay special attention to children who may be walking along or crossing the roadway. Once the flashing lights have turned red and the stop signs have extended from the side of the bus, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers. On a highway divided by a median, cars traveling on the opposite side from the stopped school bus are not required to stop, however drivers should remain attentive for children walking along or crossing the roadway.
- Wait for a passing zone to begin. A passing zone is indicated by striped lines to the right of the center line of the roadway. If the line nearest your vehicle is solid, you are not in a passing zone. Look ahead along the roadway to determine the length of the passing zone and if there is traffic approaching from the opposite direction. You must have sufficient time and space to execute your passing maneuver and return your vehicle completely to the right lane before the passing zone ends, before entering an intersection, and before oncoming traffic is within 200 feet of your vehicle;
- Before leaving your lane to begin passing, check your rear view and side mirrors, and turn your head and look back to check your “blind spot.” Be certain that no one is passing you;
- Activate your left turn signal as you begin passing;
- Pass on the left and do not return to the right lane until your vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. Wait until you can see the car you have just passed in your rear view mirror;
- Activate your right turn signal before returning to the right lane. Be sure to turn your signal off once you have returned to the right lane.
- In areas marked by a solid yellow line on the right of the center line, or a “Do Not Pass” sign, or double yellow lines;
- Within 100 feet of a railroad crossing;
- Within 100 feet of a bridge, viaduct or tunnel;
- When a car approaching from the opposite direction makes passing unsafe or will be within 200 feet of your vehicle prior to the completion of a passing maneuver;
- On a hill or curve where it is not possible to see oncoming vehicles which might be close enough to be a hazard;
- On the shoulder of the road;
- When a school bus is stopped to load or unload passengers.
- Lawfully overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction;
- An obstruction makes it necessary to drive to the left of the center line, but only after yielding to oncoming traffic;
- A roadway includes two or more marked lanes in the same direction;
- A roadway with more than one lane is restricted to one-way traffic. Upon a multi-lane, two way highway, you must never drive to the left of the center line except when authorized to do so by traffic control signals or signs or when making a left turn into an alley, private road or driveway.
You may pass on the right of another vehicle which is making or about to make a left turn if there is sufficient pavement width for both your vehicle and the vehicle making the left turn. You may also pass on the right when traveling on a multi-lane highway carrying two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction.
When a driver behind you is overtaking your vehicle, be alert for any unsafe actions by the other driver. It is considered courteous to reduce your speed slightly, making it easier for the other vehicle to pass you. It is unlawful to increase your speed before you have been passed completely by the overtaking vehicle.
Whenever any vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle. When stopping to allow a pedestrian to cross in front of you, leave sufficient room between your vehicle and the crosswalk so that approaching traffic can see the entirety of the crosswalk.
Slow down and prepare to stop if you are approaching an intersection where other vehicles are stopped, even though the traffic control devices indicate they are authorized to proceed. If they are stopped because they are allowing a pedestrian to cross the roadway, their vehicle may block your view of the pedestrian.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as motorists. Bicyclists are permitted to travel in the center of the traffic lane if there are safety hazards on the right side of the road (such as parked cars or debris) or if the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to share. Pass bicyclists with caution, treating them as you would any other vehicle and according to Georgia law. The law requires a driver to allow at least three feet between the driver and bicyclist when passing. If it is not safe to leave three feet of space, the driver should wait until it is safe to pass the bicyclist. Bicycle lanes are not passing lanes and should never be used to pass another motor vehicle.
A motorcyclist legally occupies the full width of a single lane when traveling. When passing a motorcyclist, a driver must pass in an adjacent lane. Drivers are not permitted to occupy the same lane as a motorcyclist while passing them.
It is unlawful to weave from one lane of traffic to another in order to move faster than the flow of traffic. A motorist may change lanes on a multi-lane highway and pass slower moving vehicles only when it is safe to do so. A driver’s signaling to change lanes should be clearly indicated so as to warn vehicles of the movement.
Turn movements by motor vehicles are regulated by law, and failure to observe or comply is a violation. Drivers must know and understand the law in order to turn safely and avoid crashes.
A turn signal must be given whenever a turn is made to the right or the left. You must give a continuous turn signal for an adequate distance to alert other drivers before turning. Never decide to make a turn at the “last minute.” Turning quickly or erratically can be dangerous to you and other drivers.
It is against the law to flash turn signals as a courtesy or “do pass” signal to other drivers in the rear.
- Using appropriate signals, and giving drivers ahead of and behind you adequate notice, activate your right turn signal;
- Approach the intersection in the right lane, staying as close as practicable to the curb or edge of the roadway;
- If there is a bicycle lane on the road on which you are traveling, you must yield to bicyclists traveling straight through the intersection before making a right turn;
- Make the turn in such a way as to end up in the right lane of the street into which you have turned and avoid entering any other lane of traffic. If there are multiple turning lanes on the street you are turning from, complete the turn so that your vehicle ends up in the corresponding lane on the street you are turning onto.
- Using appropriate signals, and giving drivers ahead of and behind you adequate notice, activate your left turn signal;
- Move into the far left lane of the direction in which you are traveling, or into the turning lane if one is provided;
- Keep your wheels straight until you begin making the turn;
- Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles, including bicycles, which are approaching from the opposite direction, and pedestrians crossing either roadway;
- When safe to do so, and when traffic signals/signs permit, make your turn so that your vehicle ends up in the lane closest to the center lane(s) in your direction of traffic on the street you turned onto, or closest to the center line if there is no center lane;
- If there are multiple turning lanes on the street you are turning from, complete the turn so that your vehicle ends up in the corresponding lane on the street you are turning onto;
- Once you have entered an intersection to make a left turn, you cannot change lanes in the intersection;
- You must stop and remain stopped for any pedestrians in the crosswalk of the road you are turning onto until they have cleared the lanes of traffic that you are traveling on.
At most intersections where there is a pedestrian signal, the “Walk” signal of the crossing street corresponds to the green light of the roadway you are traveling on. This means that when you are authorized to turn, pedestrians are authorized to cross the street onto which you are turning at the same time. Therefore, before making your turn, you must stop and remain stopped for any pedestrians in the crosswalk of the road onto which you wish to turn until they have cleared the lanes of traffic upon which you are traveling.
Do not make a U-turn on a curve or near the top of a hill if you cannot be seen by other drivers approaching from either direction. Do not make a U-turn where signs prohibit doing so.
On a multi-lane, two-way highway, you must never drive to the left of the center line except when making a left turn. If traffic control signals or signs are present, you may only complete the turn when authorized to do so by the traffic control signals or signs. When making left turns, you must always yield to oncoming traffic, and wait for pedestrians to clear the lanes of traffic, driveway, sidewalk, or alley you are turning into.
It is against the law to park on a highway. If the vehicle is disabled, you should make every practical effort to park off the highway, leaving free passage and a clear view of your vehicle for 200 feet in each direction.
Stopping, Standing or Parking is not permitted under the following conditions at any time:
- On the street side of any parked vehicle;
- On a sidewalk;
- Within an intersection;
- On a crosswalk;
- Between a safety zone and the adjacent curb;
- Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic;
- Upon a bridge or overpass, or within a highway tunnel;
- On any railroad tracks;
- On a controlled access roadway;
- In the area between roadways on a divided highway, including crossovers;
- At any place marked by a no-parking sign.
Stopping, Standing or Parking is permitted only momentarily to pick up or drop off passengers under the following conditions:
- In front of a public or private driveway;
- Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant;
- Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection;
- Within 30 feet of a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic control signal;
- Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway;
- Within 75 feet of the spot across the street from a fire station driveway;
- Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing;
- At any place where official signs prohibit standing.
When attempting to parallel park, drive past the parking space you wish to use and stop when you are approximately even with the car ahead of the space (you should be approximately 2 feet from the other car – door to door).
- Turn your wheels sharply to the right and back slowly toward the car behind the space you wish to use;
- As your front door passes the back bumper of the car ahead of the space you wish to use, quickly straighten your wheels and continue to back diagonally into the space in a straight line;
- When your front bumper is completely clear of the car ahead of you, turn your wheels sharply to the left and back slowly toward the car behind you;
- Stop before making contact with the car behind you. Place the car in drive, turn your wheels sharply to the right and pull toward the center of the parking space;
- Always give the appropriate turn signal prior to beginning your parking maneuver and when you exit from a parallel parking space.
- Before backing, check all sides of your vehicle to make sure it is safe to do so. You should turn your head and look over your right shoulder while backing; do not depend on your mirrors;
- For buses and large vehicles, the driver should use all mirrors and utilize a reliable person to observe and direct while backing the vehicle.
Any driver convicted of speeding 75 mph on any two-lane road, or 85 mph and over anywhere in Georgia, will be assessed a $200 state fee. The state fee will be in addition to any local fines imposed in the jurisdiction where the speeding offense occurs. Failure to pay the state fee on time will result in a license suspension and additional $50 reinstatement fee.
Maximum traveling speeds are determined based on the following general rules in Georgia unless otherwise posted:
- 30 miles per hour in any urban or residential district;
- 35 miles per hour on an unpaved county road;
- 70 miles per hour on a rural interstate;
- 65 miles per hour on an urban interstate or on a multi-lane divided highway;
- 55 miles per hour in all other areas.
These are only general rules. Local jurisdictions, the Georgia Department of Transportation, or the Georgia Department of Public Safety may deem it necessary to adjust speed limits based on local conditions, whether temporary or permanent.
Always watch for speed limit signs while driving. Some areas, such as school zones or construction zones, may be posted for lower maximum speed limits at certain times of the day or for a short period of time. It is important to pay close attention to road signs while driving to ensure that when you approach a speed zone, whether temporary or permanent, you will have sufficient time to adjust your speed accordingly.
Drivers are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when a reduced speed is necessary for safe operation. On roads with two or more lanes, drivers cannot continue to operate a motor vehicle in the passing lane if that driver is being overtaken by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed from behind. Penalties include fines up to $1000 and/or 3 points on the driving record.
When there are two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, slower vehicles should use the right lane except when passing or making a left turn. Driving too slowly can be dangerous because it impedes the regular flow of traffic. Minimum speed limits are posted on certain highways. If you are unable to drive at the minimum speed, you should seek an alternate route.
You must always stop within 50 feet, but not less than 15 feet, from the nearest rail of a railroad crossing when any of the following apply:
- The signal is flashing;
- The crossing gates are lowered;
- A flagman is giving a signal;
- A train is approaching so closely as to create an immediate hazard;
- A train gives a warning signal and is an immediate hazard due to its speed or nearness to the crossing;
- A stop sign is posted.
Under no circumstances should a motorist drive through, around or under any crossing gate while the gate is lowered. After stopping, remain stopped until all tracks are clear, all railroad crossing warning signals stop flashing, the crossing gates are raised, and it is safe to proceed.
7 Steps for Safety at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings:
- Approach with care.
- Prepare to stop.
- Look both ways and listen carefully.
- If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Do not enter a crossing unless you can drive completely through without stopping!
- Look again.
- Cross tracks with care.
- Keep going once you start.
If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, do the following:
- Get out immediately
- Move away
- Locate Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) sign containing emergency contact information.
- Call for help! Tell them a vehicle is on the tracks.
In an effort to minimize inconvenience, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) conducts most road construction and maintenance without closing roads to traffic. This poses a traffic hazard to drivers and their passengers, as well as the crew members working on the road. Over half of all fatal injuries to road workers are caused by being struck by a motor vehicle, and a third of these by vehicles intruding into the work space. Since 1973, 58 GDOT workers have lost their lives in work zones. However, motorists are more likely to be killed or injured in work zone crashes than GDOT workers. The general public accounts for 82% of work zone fatalities nationwide.
Highway work zones are defined as portions of a highway or street where construction, reconstruction, or maintenance work is being done to the road, its shoulders, or any other areas near the roadway. This definition also includes mobile work such as underground and overhead utility maintenance, snow removal, and land surveying activities. Highway work zones are set up according to the type of road and the work to be done on the road. Signing, roadway markings, and flaggers are used to direct drivers safely through work zones or carefully marked detours. Motorists are responsible for knowing how to read and react to these directions. Paying attention and driving cautiously and courteously are the most important steps to preventing crashes while driving through a work zone. Watch for the color orange. It means road work.
Warning signs in work zones usually have an orange background and black letters or symbols. They are used with other traffic control devices or flaggers to help direct traffic safely through work areas and to protect drivers, their passengers, and highway workers.
For safety reasons, the speed limit in most work zones is reduced. If the speed limit is not reduced in a work zone, drivers should obey the normal posted speed limit for the road on which they are traveling, but be more cautious of road conditions, lane position, and the presence of workers.
Advisory speed limits are used to identify safe speeds for specific conditions within a work zone. These black and orange signs are always used with warning signs. Official speed limit reduction requirements will be indicated with the standard black and white speed limit signs. Motorists who disobey regulatory speed limits in a work zone may be found guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and will be punished by a fine of not less than $100.00 nor more than $2,000.00, or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 12 months, or both.
Flaggers are people used to direct traffic through and around work zones. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign. Do not disobey a flagger’s traffic control directions.
Work vehicles and heavy equipment will typically have flashing or revolving amber lights. You must yield the right-of-way to these vehicles. Reduce your speed as you approach any work zone where vehicles have amber lights displayed.
Travel lanes are likely to be closed in work zones, and lane patterns may change as the work progresses. Sometimes, workers must operate within inches or feet of an open lane of traffic. When lanes are closed or narrowed, or workers are operating on the roadway near traffic, change lanes away from them if possible or shift slightly within the boundaries of your lane to give added distance between your vehicle and the workers. This will provide extra protection for you, your passengers and the workers along the roadway.
Some road work can be performed without actually closing lanes of travel. Pavement maintenance, debris removal, paint striping, utility work, and snow removal are examples of work accomplished while moving in traffic. Vehicles used in performing this type of work will have flashing amber lights and may have flashing arrows directing traffic to merge left or right. The vehicles may also display signs for the purpose of directing traffic or indicating hazardous conditions. These vehicles usually work at very slow speeds, such as 5 miles per hour, and may occasionally be stationary in the roadway. For your safety, and the safety of others, slow down, yield the right-of-way to these work vehicles, and follow any directions displayed by the work vehicles.
- You are prohibited from entering or leaving any controlled-access roadway at unauthorized entrances or exits;
- Certain types of vehicles may be prohibited on controlled-access roadways if signs are posted to this effect;
- Backing up is prohibited on controlled-access roadways.
- An example of a controlled-access roadway includes any tolled facility in Georgia such as the I-85 Express Lanes or the reversible I-75 Express Lanes. Tolled lanes in Georgia require motorists to mount a registered Peach Pass transponder in their vehicle in order to access the lanes. Peach Pass can also be used in Florida and North Carolina. Registered owners of the vehicle that enters the tolled lane without an active Peach Pass will receive a violation notice in the mail.
- You are prohibited from entering the reversible Express Lanes when the access control gates are closed or closing.
The driver of any motor vehicle, when traveling down a hill, must not coast with the gears or transmission of the vehicle in neutral.
- It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a drug (prescription or illegal), or any other substance which impairs his/her ability to safely do so;
- A person 21 or more years of age is considered “Under the Influence of Alcohol” when 0.08 gm or more by alcohol weight is present in the blood;
- A person under 21 years of age is irrefutably considered “Under the Influence of Alcohol” when 0.02 gm or more by alcohol weight is present in the blood;
Certain drugs or other substances can also make a person irrefutably “under the influence.” Having a prescription for certain medication is not a defense if the medication impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Penalties for driving under the influence of intoxicants are severe, with fines up to $1000, jail sentences up to 12 months, and mandatory suspension of your driving privileges.
Reckless driving is defined as driving any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property. Examples of reckless driving include but are not limited to speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, improperly passing, etc. Penalties for reckless driving can include a fine of up to $1000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, and, if the driver is under 21 years of age, conviction will result in a suspension of all driving privileges.
The following behaviors are considered racing on highways and streets:
- When two or more people compete or race on any street or highway;
- When one motor vehicle is beside or to the rear of another driver, and one driver tries to prevent the passing or overtaking of the competing driver by acceleration or maneuver; or
- When one or more persons compete in a race against time.
In Georgia it is unlawful to drag race. The penalties for committing this violation may include imprisonment and fines, and all driving privileges will be suspended if you are convicted.
- A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person;
- Examples of aggressive driving include but are not limited to tailgating, cutting in front of another driver, blocking other drivers from passing or changing lanes, etc.
- A conviction for aggressive driving is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature;
- The penalty for committing this violation may include imprisonment, fines, and, if the driver is under 21 years of age, conviction will result in a suspension of all driving privileges.
Any driver under age 18 who holds a Class D license or a learner’s permit is prohibited from using any wireless device while driving. This includes cell phones, computers, and all texting devices. Exceptions are provided for emergencies and for drivers who are fully parked. The fine for a conviction is $150, or $300 if involved in a crash while using a wireless device.
All drivers regardless of age are prohibited from reading, writing, or sending a text message while driving. This ban applies to any texting device including cell phones, and applies to text messages, instant messages, email and Internet data. Exceptions are provided for emergency personnel, drivers responding to emergencies, and drivers who are fully parked. The fine for a conviction is $150.
A conviction for either violation will result in the accumulation of 1 point on the driving record. Texting while driving is illegal and can result in death.
The driver of any vehicle, other than one on official business, must not follow any fire fighting apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm, or other emergency vehicles, closer than 200 feet, or park any vehicle within 500 feet of any fire apparatus stopped in answer to a fire alarm.
When traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residential district, drivers of trucks and vehicles pulling trailers must leave sufficient space between themselves and other vehicles of the same kind, so that the driver of an overtaking vehicle can enter and occupy the space without danger. This law prohibits the act commonly known as “caravanning.”
Trailers wider than 8 feet, 6 inches are not permitted on Georgia’s highways.
Riding in a house trailer, or any other vehicular drawn trailer, is not allowed while it is being moved upon a street or highway. There is a high likelihood of injury or death if passengers are unrestrained in the trailer and the vehicle is involved in a crash or the trailer becomes disconnected from the vehicle.
It is unlawful to drive across a dividing section, barrier, or unpaved strip which separates two roadways at any point other than at an authorized opening or crossover.
It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while wearing a headphone, headset, or any other device which would impair the driver’s ability to hear. Also, the driver must not wear anything which would obstruct his or her vision while driving a motor vehicle. Not only is wearing these devices illegal, it is also unsafe.
If a vehicle is overloaded with passengers or freight so as to obstruct the view of the driver or interfere with the mechanical operation, it cannot be legally driven. Passengers must not ride in a position that interferes with the driver’s view or his or her control of the vehicle.
Opening the doors of a vehicle on the side on which traffic is moving is prohibited unless it is safe to do so and unless it can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists that may be operating close to the lane of parked cars.
Unless directed to by a traffic control device, authorized emergency personnel or construction workers, it is unlawful for a vehicle to be driven contrary to the direction posted on a one-way street or highway, except in situations where police vehicles or authorized emergency vehicles find it necessary to do so.
When stopping or slowing down suddenly, the proper hand, arm, or brake operated stop signal must be given.
Use high-beam headlights only when driving in rural areas and when other cars are not nearby. You must use your headlights between one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise; at any time when it is raining; or when visibility is limited.
You should dim (lower) your headlights when:
- You are within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle so as not to blind the driver;
- You are following closely (within 200 feet) behind another vehicle;
- You are driving on lighted roads;
- You are driving in rain, fog, snow, or smoke;
- Your vision is reduced to less than 200 feet.
Because of decreased vision at night and the glare of oncoming headlights, night driving presents its own unique challenges. Unfamiliar roads and unexpected situations are more likely to cause hazardous driving conditions. You can help ensure safe driving in several ways.
- Make sure your headlights are working properly and the lenses are kept clean. Periodically have them checked for correct aim/alignment;
- Don’t “overdrive” your headlights. When traveling at night or in other situations that make the use of headlights necessary for safe travel, do not drive at a speed that requires a stopping time greater than the distance illuminated by your headlights;
- Slow down when oncoming traffic is approaching or when you are nearing a curve;
- If visibility is greatly reduced, use the edge line as a guide to maintaining your lane of travel. If there is no edge line, use the center line to guide yourself;
- Keep your windshield clean;
- Do not drive if you are tired. More frequent stops, more fresh air, lively radio programs and other measures can help you to avoid drowsiness and inattention;
- Watch carefully for highway signs; they are harder to see at night;
- Watch carefully for pedestrians and for vehicles stopped along the edge of the road;
- Do not stop on the roadway.
Georgia law states that each occupant in the front seat of a passenger vehicle traveling on Georgia roads and highways must be secured by a seat safety belt (lap and shoulder). All occupants of any passenger vehicle must utilize a seat safety belt if they are under the age of 18.
Safety belts are needed because they are the most effective occupant protection in all types of vehicle crashes. According to Crash Stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts saved 12,802 lives in 2014. Georgia Department of Transportation reports that the risk of fatality in a crash is reduced by about 45% when seat belts are used. Using safety belts correctly is a preventable health care habit that:
- helps you keep control of the vehicle;
- helps keep your head from striking the dash or windshield;
- helps keep people in the vehicle from hitting each other;
- helps spread the crash force across the stronger parts of the body;
- helps protect you from injury;
- helps keep you from being ejected from the vehicle.
When used correctly, safety belts are effective at helping reduce the risk of death or serious injury. Georgia has a “primary” safety belt law, meaning that officers may stop and cite violators without observing another violation.
Every driver transporting a child who is under eight years of age, except in a taxicab or public transit vehicle, must properly restrain the child in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for the child’s height and weight. The restraint system must comply with the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Under limited circumstances, a child under eight may be exempt from this requirement. For further information, contact the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety – http://www.gahighwaysafety.org.
Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 people were injured on U.S. roadways in 2015 because of distracted drivers. Distracted driving is doing another activity while driving. This takes the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing. Common distractions include but are not limited to talking on a cell phone, texting, reading, eating, grooming, using a navigation device, and adjusting the stereo system. The presence of a passengers and pets can also increase crash risk. Georgia law requires drivers to exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle and prohibits any action that distracts the driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.