Driving in Georgia, like anywhere else, requires a thorough understanding of the rules of the road. Most people can easily name the basics: stop at red lights, don’t speed, and never drive under the influence. But Georgia traffic laws go far beyond these basics, and there are a whole host of rules that people may not know exist.
Ignorance is not a valid excuse when it comes to the law. So here’s an in-depth look at some of the lesser-known Georgia traffic laws you may want to familiarize yourself with.
Don’t be complacent on crosswalks
Georgia law is clear about crosswalks: you simply cannot drive through them when pedestrians are present. Seems simple, but some drivers may think it’s okay to drive forward slowly if they think the pedestrian is “almost” out of the way. Doing this is not only rude; It’s illegal. Georgia Code Section 40-6-91 states that drivers must stop in a crosswalk and stop for pedestrians when the pedestrian is halfway along the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian approaches and Within one lane of this is half of the road on which the vehicle is traveling or turning onto. Conclusion: If someone is in a crosswalk, you must stop and wait. No ifs and buts.
The Move Over Law
Most people are aware that they should make way for emergency vehicles, but Georgia’s moving law goes far beyond that. The law requires drivers to transfer not only for police cars and ambulances, but also for tow trucks, road maintenance vehicles and utility vehicles. Otherwise you could face high fines.
The relocation law is codified in Georgia Code Section 40-6-16. If you cannot move safely, the law requires you to “slow down below the posted speed limit and be ready to stop.” The goal here is clear: to protect those working on the side of the road.
Right to red: Optional, not mandatory
“Right on red” is legal in Georgia, but what some may not know is that it is not mandatory. Drivers often feel pressured to turn right on a red light, especially when there is a line of impatient drivers honking behind them. However, if you feel it is not safe to turn, you have no legal obligation to do so. In Georgia, traffic laws prioritize safety over speed.
Even if you’re one of those impatient honkers, relax. It’s not worth someone risking their life just so you can get to Walmart a few minutes early.
The flashing yellow arrow
The flashing yellow arrow for left turns was introduced in Georgia around 2010 and can sometimes confuse drivers. A flashing yellow arrow means you can turn left, but you must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. It doesn’t grant you the right of way, it just allows you to proceed with caution. Failure to understand this signal can lead to dangerous situations.
Stopped school buses driving by
In Georgia, you must stop for a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. They cannot proceed until the bus has turned off the stop sign and flashing lights and the children have cleared the road. What many people don’t know is that you still have to stop even if you’re on the opposite side of a two-lane road without a median. If there is a median or center turning lane, only the vehicles behind the bus are allowed to stop. The law is designed to protect children and violations can result in severe penalties.
While it’s common knowledge that texting while driving is illegal, Georgia’s hands-free law goes even further. The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding their phone or using other parts of their body to support the device. You can still use your phone for GPS or to make calls, but this must be done using hands-free technology.
Parking against traffic
In Georgia, it is illegal to park “against the flow of traffic.” This means that your vehicle should be parked in the direction that traffic is moving on that side of the street. It may seem like a minor point, but it is a rule that aims to improve visibility and safety for all road users.
Georgia traffic laws are designed to ensure the safety of everyone, from pedestrians to drivers to workers on the road. Even if some of these laws seem less well known, they are no less important.