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Motorcycles: For Safety, Be Seen and Heard

By Evan L. Kaine

Motorcycles and riders are easy targets to blame for causing a ruckus – or even disturbing the peace. Hundreds and thousands of police reports and claims are filed each year because pedestrians, neighbors and/or businesses are finding motorcycles too obnoxious. However, what many don’t realize is that there’s an excessive number of motorcyclists who are being hit; injured or even killed because they are neither heard nor seen.

It is important to note that responsibility falls on both the rider and other drivers. However, a smart rider should do anything that they can to be seen and heard within state law. In Georgia, motorcycles must have at least one rear red reflector at least 20 inches off the ground and it must be visible at night between 50 and 300 feet behind the bike (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-24). Other rules such as headlights, brake lights, turn signal lights, auxiliary lights, flashing lights, horns and mirrors all must be in working condition for a motorcycle to be properly seen and heard.

Headlights (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-22) must have at least one but no more than two headlights mounted at least 24 inches off the ground but no more than 54 inches high.

Brake lights (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-25) must have at least one brake light. If the motorcycle comes with two, then both must be operational. The brake light(s) must be red and visible from 300 feet in both daylight and night.

Turn signal lights (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-26) must be equipped with mechanical or electrical turn signals. These signal lights must be visible from 300 feet in both daylight and night from the front and the rear. It is important to note that hand signals are an acceptable substitute – however, a rider can be cited for failure to maintain turn signals in good repair if you choose to use hand signaling in lieu of inoperative or missing turn signals.

Auxiliary lights (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-29(b)) may be equipped with no more than two fog lights between 12 inches and 30 inches off the ground. The lamps must be projected so that they project at least four (4) inches lower than the center of bulb mounting height at a distance of 25 feet.

Horns (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-70) must be in working condition on a motorcycle. It must be clearly audible at least 200 feet but does not emit an “unreasonably loud or harsh sound.”

Mirrors (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-72) must be on the motorcycle to reflect the driver’s view of the highway for a distance of 200 feet to the rear of the motorcycle.

These laws are meant to keep riders safe when other drivers may not see them. As we have mentioned, it is imperative to also wear reflective and bright clothing when riding. A smaller and narrower vehicle can be missed easily, so take the proper steps to ensure that you, and your bike, are equipped with the proper gear and equipment. For drivers, always double check and keep a close ear out for motorcycles – they have the same rights as you.

Published July 20, 2016
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