Georgia Traffic Laws and Vehicle Definitions

Georgia Traffic Laws and Vehicle Definitions

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated, section 40-1-1, provides the definitions for Georgia Traffic Laws, including vehicles, rights of way, roads, bike paths, streets, districts, equipment, and certain other designations. Georgia statutes that have to do with traffic and vehicle operations can only be understood fully by going back to the definitions.

As personal injury lawyers, we represent victims and their families after serious car accidents. In order to represent our clients, we must be very familiar with the law and how it applies to each and every case. Most cases have factual differences, but the law provides a structure that we use to fight for the rights of our clients. Using the many definitions found in our traffic laws, we are able to strengthen our clients’ cases depending on the facts presented. The courts often rely on the definitions found in various statutory schemes to compare the case before them and what the law says.

Scholle Law has over 25 years of experience presenting cases to the court or to the insurance carrier that is representing the defendant so that we can secure the best outcomes for our clients. Knowledge of the law in general and specifically in the areas of our practice, is so important to our work.

We provide a free initial confidential consultation after accident or injury. We can tell you whether you have a case that could provide recovery for damages, lost wages and other possible claims. As experienced vehicle accident lawyers, the Scholle Law team has represented injured victims and bereaved families for over two decades. We have built a strong record of successes and we are known for our ethical and effective representation of victims and their families.

Here are some of the key definitions in Georgia’s laws related to traffic and highways. Section 40-1-1 includes a wide range of definitions that relate to traffic laws in Georgia.

All-terrain vehicle

Defined as a motorized vehicle that is used off-road and has three tires, with a seat for the driver and handle bars that steer the vehicle.

Arterial street

A United States or a state numbered route, that is a highway or major street designated by local authorities as part of a major arterial system of streets or highways.

Authorized emergency vehicle

A motor vehicle belonging to a public utility corporation or operated by the Department of Transportation and designated as an emergency vehicle by the Department of Public Safety; a motor vehicle belonging to a fire department or a certified private vehicle belonging to a volunteer firefighter or a fire-fighting association, an ambulance; or a motor vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency.


Every device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having only two wheels which are in tandem and either of which is more than 13 inches in diameter. “Bicycle lane” is a portion of the roadway that has been designated by striping, pavement markings, or signage for the exclusive or preferential use of persons operating bicycles. Bicycle lanes shall at a minimum, unless impracticable, be required to meet accepted guidelines, recommendations, and criteria with respect to planning, design, operation, and maintenance as set forth by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“Bicycle path” means a right of way under the jurisdiction and control of this state or a local political subdivision thereof designated for use by bicycle riders. “Bicycle trailer” means every device pulled by a bicycle and designed by the manufacturer of such device to carry human passengers.


At Scholle Law, we represent those injured by buses or other commercial vehicles. A “bus” is defined as motor vehicle that carries more than ten passengers, is used for the paid transportation of people. We also represent those injured by trucks, including semis and tractor trailers found across our roads and highways.

“Truck” is defined as every motor vehicle designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property. Trucks are particularly dangerous in that their weight and center of gravity means they take longer to stop in case of an emergency. The harm and damage trucks can cause when they collide with smaller vehicles is very serious. 


With the increase in pedestrian accidents, which cause serious and fatal injuries, we look at the definition of “crosswalk” which can be very important as we present our cases to the courts and / or to the defendant’s insurance carrier. A crosswalk is the part of a roadway at an intersection that is defined by lines from the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway; or any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface. Some pedestrian accidents occur in rural areas and in some cases, the pedestrian still has the right of way when there is no cross walk.


The definition of intersection can also be important in pedestrian accident or injury. An “intersection” is the area that connects curb lines or the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways which join one another at, or approximately at, right angles, or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict. Where a highway includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, every crossing of each roadway of such divided highway by an intersecting highway shall be regarded as a separate intersection.

In the event such intersecting highway also includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, then every crossing of two roadways of such highways shall be regarded as a separate intersection. The junction of an alley with a street or highway shall not constitute an intersection. Also important in pedestrian accidents and motor vehicle accidents is the term “right of way.”

The legal definition of this term is the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed, and proximity to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other.

Divided highway

A highway divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or by a clearly indicated dividing section so constructed as to impede vehicular traffic.


The entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.


A motor driven cycle equipped with two or three wheels, with or without foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion, and an independent power source providing a maximum of two brake horsepower.


A motor vehicle that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor, all-terrain vehicle and moped.

Motor driven cycle

Every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five brake horsepower, every bicycle with a motor attached, and every moped.

Motorized cart

Every motor vehicle having no less than three wheels and an unladen weight of 1,300 pounds or less and which cannot operate at more than 20 miles per hour.


These are just some of the many definitions found in Georgia’s traffic laws. They are important when we file litigation on behalf of injured clients who have suffered due to the negligence of another driver or entity. Scholle Law understands that each and every case and client is different and deserves individual attention and communication.

Call us today at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.