New Move Over Law Designed to Protect Georgia Cyclist from Car Crashes


June 19, 2011

It may seem obvious that a car that is approaching a cyclist riding along the shoulder of the road should swerve away from the cyclist and give the cyclist some room when passing them.

However, Kathy Serrano, the widow of Tony Serrano, knows first hand that some drivers do not follow this basic safety rule. Her husband was killed in 2004 in Gwinnett County when he was rear-ended from behind while on his bicycle and flung 150 feet up the road. The driver hit him with his right, front headlight so it was apparent that the driver did not give him any room at all.

Hopefully, these kinds of accidents will be substantially reduced in frequency with the adoption of a new state law that was signed into legislation here in Georgia last month. Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia now has a revised section 40-1-1. The law now provides in layman’s terms that drivers are required to move over three feet when passing any cyclist on the road. This law eliminates the gray area that existed under the former provision that merely required that drivers leave a "safe distance" between their vehicle and bikes. This new law requires drivers to wait until the other lane is clear and move over into the other lane in order to pass cyclists.

There is no doubt that there may be some uncooperative drivers out there after they learn about this new law; however, bicycles are considered by law to be vehicles too. Unfortunately, some drivers view bicycles as nothing more than an annoying road obstruction that interferes with the flow of traffic. The new law, if violated, will result in a charge of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time and fines. This law will also help clarify liability in some bike and auto accidents where the driver does not provide adequate space when passing a cyclist. There are already 19 other states that have 3-foot passing lanes in place.

Accidents and Cyclists

Bicyclists and drivers are required to obey the rules and traffic laws of the road in their state. State law governs bicycle accident lawsuits. When a cyclist wants to make a claim or sue to recover damages for injuries that were incurred after an accident with a car, there are two questions that must be answered.

  • Was the accident that caused the bicyclist's injuries due to the negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver?
  • Was there any negligence on the part of the cyclist that contributed to the accident that could reduce or eliminate his or her right to recovery of damages?

When a driver drifts into a bike lane and strikes a cyclist, this generally would constitute negligence on the part of the driver. This new statute now defines more clearly how much space must be provided to a bicycle rider. If a traffic citation is issued at the time of the accident for violating the law requiring drivers to move over or for other violations like speeding, then this may help constitute a basis for holding the driver liable for negligence.

If a cyclist is involved in a car accident and has contributed to it through his or her own negligence in some way, this does not necessarily mean that the rider cannot recover compensation for his or her injuries. If a cyclist swerves into traffic, rides on the wrong side of the road or otherwise violates a traffic safety law, the insurance company for the motorist will blame the rider for the accident. If the jury or judge determines that a bicycle rider’s conduct contributed to the accident, then they may assess some responsibility to the cyclist based on the rider’s percentage of fault. Unless a rider is determined to be more than 49 percent at fault, the rider may still recover damages but the amount will be reduced by the cyclist’s percentage of fault.

Bicycle accident cases can be complicated and require the advice and assistance of a good bicycle accident attorney. Experienced Georgia bicycle accident attorneys can assist in investigating your accident to determine what parties are negligent and what damages can be recovered. If you are involved in a bicycle collision with an automobile in Georgia and sustain serious injuries, Montlick and Associates fights hard for the rights of our clients to help them get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. We have represented thousands of injury victims in all types of motor vehicle accidents including bicycle accidents over the last 27 years. Our experienced team of attorneys and our professional staff carefully investigate our clients’ bicycle accidents so that we can develop the best possible legal strategy as part of our continuing objective to be known as the top Atlanta bicycle accident law firm in Georgia.

The experienced Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers of Montlick and Associates are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.