Driving in Georgia, like anywhere else, requires a keen understanding of the road rules. Most people can readily cite the basics: stop at red lights, don’t speed, and never drive under the influence. But Georgia’s traffic laws go well beyond these fundamentals, and there are quite a few rules that people might not realize exist.
Ignorance isn’t a viable excuse when it comes to the law, so here’s a deep dive into some of the less-known Georgia traffic laws that you might want to familiarize yourself with.
Don’t Be Complacent at Crosswalks
Georgia law is clear about crosswalks: you simply cannot drive through them when pedestrians are present. Seems straightforward, but some drivers might think it’s alright to inch forward if they believe the pedestrian is “almost” out of the way. Doing so isn’t just rude; it’s illegal. Georgia Code Section 40-6-91 states that drivers must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. Bottom line: when someone is in a crosswalk, you must stop and wait. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The Move Over Law
Most people are aware that they should move over for emergency vehicles, but Georgia’s Move Over Law extends far beyond that. The law mandates that drivers must move over for not just police cars and ambulances, but also tow trucks, highway maintenance vehicles, and utility service vehicles. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines.
The Move Over Law is codified in Georgia Code Section 40-6-16. If you can’t move over safely, the law says you must “slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.” The goal here is straightforward: protect those who work along the roadside.
Right on Red: Optional, Not Obligatory
“Right on red” is legal in Georgia, but what some might not realize is that it’s not a requirement. Drivers often feel pressured to make that right turn when the light is red, especially if there’s a queue of impatient motorists honking behind them. However, if you don’t feel that it’s safe to make the turn, you’re under no legal obligation to do so. In Georgia, traffic laws prioritize safety over speed.
Also, if you are one of those impatient honkers, chill out. It isn’t worth someone risking their life just for you to get to Walmart a couple minutes sooner.
The Flashing Yellow Arrow
Introduced to Georgia in about 2010, the flashing yellow arrow for left turns can sometimes confound drivers. A flashing yellow arrow means you may turn left but must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. It doesn’t grant you the right of way, but merely allows you to proceed with caution. Not understanding this signal can lead to dangerous situations.
Passing Stopped School Buses
In Georgia, you must stop for a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. You can’t proceed until the bus has turned off its stop sign and flashing lights, and the children have cleared the road. What many don’t know is that you must stop even if you’re on the opposite side of a two-lane road without a median. If there’s a median or a center turning lane, only the vehicles behind the bus must stop. The law is there to protect children, and violations can lead to severe penalties.
While it’s common knowledge that texting while driving is illegal, Georgia’s Hands-Free Law goes further. The law, which came into effect on July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding their phones or using any other part of their body to support the device. You can still use your phone for GPS or to make calls, but it has to be through hands-free technology.
Parking Against Traffic
It’s illegal to park “against the flow” of traffic in Georgia. That means your vehicle should be parked in the direction that traffic is moving on that side of the road. It might seem like a minor point, but it’s a rule designed to improve visibility and safety for all road users.
Georgia’s traffic laws are designed to keep everyone safe, from pedestrians to drivers to workers on the road. While some of these laws might seem less known, they’re no less important.