Some people commute using bicycles, particularly in major urban areas like Atlanta. Many others ride bikes for recreation or fitness. Despite their benefits, riding a bike among other motorists can be dangerous.
Unlike motorists, cyclists have very little to protect them in an accident. While cars and trucks have safety features like anti-lock brakes, airbags, seat belts, and the metal cage of their vehicle to protect drivers from the force of a collision, bicyclists are usually directly impacted in a crash.
However, if you’re a bicyclist, you can do one crucial thing to protect yourself from a traumatic injury: wear a bike helmet. Wearing a helmet won’t necessarily safeguard you from all injuries, particularly if you’re involved in a severe crash. However, it can offer critical protection for one of the most essential parts of your body: your brain.
What is Georgia’s Bicycle Helmet Law?
Georgia law requires every bicyclist under 16 to wear a helmet that complies with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Snell requirements. However, bicyclists over 16 are not legally required to wear helmets.
In fact, state laws in Georgia outline specific situations when bike helmets are required. Below, we will briefly review Georgia’s bike helmet laws, discuss the penalties for violating those laws, and review some critical bicycle safety tips.
Overview of Georgia’s Bicycle Helmet Laws
In Georgia, anyone age 16 or younger must wear a bike helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). However, individuals over 16 are not legally required to wear a bike helmet.
As bicycle accident attorneys, the team at Butler Kahn highly recommends wearing a bicycle helmet even if you are over 16. Having represented many bicycle accident clients over the years, we cannot overstate the importance of bike helmets to prevent or lessen severe injuries.
Suppose you opt not to wear a bike helmet and are involved in a collision. You are much more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can cause severe, life-threatening conditions like subdural and epidural hematomas. Some TBIs also involve skull fractures. Some TBI victims suffer psychological issues and memory loss.
To protect yourself from TBIs and other serious head injuries, it is vital to wear a helmet at all times when riding a bicycle.
Bicycle Helmet Safety Tips
Although you cannot predict what other motorists will do, there are proactive steps you can take when sharing the road with other vehicles. Consider following these tips to stay safe while riding your bike:
- Wear a helmet. Make sure your bicycle helmet is fitted correctly, and it clasps securely under your chin.
- Ensure that your bicycle is fitted correctly to your body size. If you are riding a road bike, you should leave 1 to 2 inches of space between yourself and the top bar. If you are riding a mountain bike, there should be 3 to 4 inches of space between yourself and the top bar. Adjust the seat height as needed. It should be on the same plane as the handlebars.
- Make yourself visible. No matter what time of day or night you are riding, it’s essential to ensure that you are visible on your bike. Never assume that other motorists can see you. You should wear bright clothing, such as fluorescent yellow or orange, to make yourself more visible.
- Inspect your equipment. Ensure all of your bicycle equipment is in good working order before you get on the road.
- Be wary of riding after dark. Riding a bike at night is much more dangerous than during the day. Motorists sometimes fail to notice bicyclists during the day, but low visibility compounds this issue after dark. If you must ride at night, you should wear a reflective vest and use flashing lights. You can also add reflectors to your tires to increase your visibility.
- Be on the lookout for road hazards. Bicyclists are much more vulnerable to road hazards than motorists are. If you’re biking, you must watch out for hazards such as potholes, debris, loose gravel, leaves, drain gates, and more. If you’re riding in a group and encounter a hazard, you should shout back to the rest of the group and alert them of the threat.
- Maintain control of your bike. You should keep at least one hand on your bike’s handlebars at all times. If you’re carrying cargo, stow it in your bicycle’s basket or keep it in a backpack.
Can You Get Fined for Not Wearing a Helmet in Georgia?
Adults can’t be fined for not wearing a helmet in Georgia because the law states helmets are not required if a rider is 16 or older. You must wear a helmet if you are under 16, though you won’t be criminally penalized even if you violate the law. However, you could get your parents into legal trouble. Your parents are obligated to ensure that you abide by Georgia’s bike helmet rule. If you violate the law, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Lights and Other Equipment on Bicycles in Georgia
By law in Georgia, bicyclists are required to use lights at night. When riding in the dark, bicyclists must attach a white light to the front of the bicycle and a red light to the rear. Cyclists may also use a Department of Transportation-approved rear reflector instead of a rear light. The front light should be visible from 300 feet in front of the bike, and the rear light or reflector should be visible from a distance of 300 feet behind the bike.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Georgia’s Bicycle Laws?
Bicyclists must abide by all the same road rules that bind motorists. You should obey all traffic laws, including stopping at stop signs and red lights and yielding to the right-of-way.
You should also note that bicyclists aren’t allowed to carry passengers on a bicycle in Georgia. You cannot have more than one person on your bike at a time. If you’re over the age of 12, you’re also not permitted to ride on sidewalks unless a local ordinance allows it.
Our Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Help Bicycle Accident Victims
Were you injured in a bike accident due to someone else’s negligence? If so, you could be entitled to recover compensation for the losses you suffered. The Georgia bicycle accident attorneys at Butler Kahn have the knowledge and skills to help you hold the at-fault party responsible for their negligence.
If you hire us, we will thoroughly investigate the accident, document and calculate damages you’re owed, gather evidence to prove liability, and vigorously seek the compensation you deserve. We understand how stressful it can be to deal with the insurance claims process while injured, so our lawyers will handle every stage of your case for you while you focus on getting better.
Contact Butler Kahn if you would like to discuss your case and evaluate your legal options.