Biker bill awaits Georgia governor's signature

Biker bill awaits Georgia governor's signature

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Apr 9th 2016

A major motorcycle bill is sitting on Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk awaiting his signature.

The final bill as presented to the governor combines two issues Georgia bikers fought for this year: handlebars and red lights. These two started out as separate bills, but were combined into one.

If the governor approves, the prohibition on handlebar height is gone in the Peach State. Bring out those ape hangers! This part of the bill has not generated much opposition.

Insurance companies are asking the governor to veto Senate Bill (SB) 76, “red light bill,” because it deals with bikers and traffic signals. Every rider out there has experienced the frustration of pulling up to a traffic light and the combined weight of the bike and rider is not enough to trip the signal wire embedded in pavement.

SB76 allows a rider at one of these lights to proceed through, after coming to a complete stop and checking to make sure going through the intersection is safe. Each rider in a group must stop and check the intersection before going through. The law also applies to bicycle riders.

The bill, as presented to the governor, puts the burden of proof on the rider if there is an accident.

American Bikers Active Toward Education (ABATE) District 13 put out this call on Facebook on May 4 to all riders, “We just received word via Joey Brush that Senator Jackson just notified us that the Governor is getting heavy pressure from the Insurance Industry to VETO SB76…. [W]e have to ramp up the calls so the GOV understand riders are watching.” The FB post asks all riders to call Gov. Deal’s office at 404-656-1776 and ask him to sign the bill.

ABATE’s Legislative Director Joey Brush filed reports from Atlanta during the winter meeting of the Georgia General Assembly. He said of the hearings on SB76, only the insurance lobby spoke against the red light bill. He wrote in the March report, “The only voice in opposition was the lobbyist for State Farm Insurance. He voiced his ‘concern’ about lawsuits being generated from motorcyclist ‘running’ red lights. Their only stated remedy is for the rider to turn right and then make a U-turn to go left, assuming the light on the main highway would then trigger on the bike.” Despite only one insurance company representative speaking, other lobbyists for the industry were busy working behind the scenes, talking to legislators and asking them to vote against the bill.

The insurance lobby also had another argument. “But permitting bikers to treat the lights like a stop sign could wind up boosting insurance rates for all motorcycles in the state, according to witnesses testifying before Powell’s committee,” states a Morris News Service report appearing The Augusta Chronicle.

This is a bill that needs to pass. Gov. Deal will be doing a favor to Georgia’s riders and those who visit the Peach State if he signs it.

Other legislative efforts ABATE put forward did not gain enough support to go to the governor. Among the efforts is the "helmet law." ABATE has lobbied for years for a law to let bikers who have taken a rider safety course to wear or not wear a helmet as it suits the individual.